The present case summary has been written by Vanshika Arora.

Petition Number 

421 of 1989

Equivalent Citation 

(1990) 3 SCC 318


Hon’ble Justice S. Ratnaval Pandian 

Date of Judgment 

May 5, 1990

Relevant Act 

Constitution of India 

Relevant Articles 

Article 23(1), 35(a)(ii), 39(e) and (f), 32 

Summary of the Petition 

The petitioner, filed a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) before the Supreme Court, against forced prostitution of girls, devadasis, and joints and also requested their rehabilitation. In light of the squalid ‘flesh trade’ prevalent in India, the petitioner highlighted that younger girls, when reaching puberty are forced into prostitution either by their parents or by means of kidnapping. Parents who cannot take responsibility for their girls anymore, due to abject penury, force them into these professions. While brothel keepers who are motivated by profit run intricate racquets of kidnapping. In light of this briefly elaborated situation, the petitioner filed a PIL along with affidavits of 9 girls that have forcefully been part of this unethical practice and seek rehabilitation. The filed PIL seeks issuance of guidelines in the aspect of three matters: 

  1. Directing CBI (Central Bureau of Investigation) to conduct scrutiny in red light areas and police officers under whom these areas function 
  2. To bring all inmates of red light areas and those who are part of flesh trade, under State rehabilitation centers and provide them with medical, healthcare, and other basic facilities. 
  3. To bring children of prostitutes that are found begging, to protective homes, and rescue young girls from flesh trade racquets. 

Ratio Decidendi 

The court considered the matter one of great importance and noted that Article 23 of the constitution guarantees “Right against Exploitation” and prohibits human trafficking in any form. A contravention of this article is punishable. Moreover, Article 35(a)(ii) states that notwithstanding anything in the constitution, Parliament shall have (not the state legislature) the power to make laws for prescribing punishment against anything that is punishable under the constitution. The court also noted that subsections (e) and (f) of Article 39 of the constitution state that the state should direct its policy towards ensuring that children at a tender age are not abused, and youth are protected against exploitation and moral and material abandonment. The court also considered several other legislations that guarantee child protection. Such as the Immoral Traffic Prevention Act, 1956; The Juvenile Justice Act, 1986; Section 366-A, 366-B, 372,373 of The Indian Penal Code, 1860. 

The Final decision of the court  

The court decided that a CBI inquiry through the lengths and widths of the entire country is not needed. This malady can only be eradicated through stringent law enforcement. In light of which the court made the following directions: 

  1. All-State Governments and Governments of UTs should direct law enforcement agencies to take speedy action in eradicating child prostitution. 
  2. State Governments and UTs should set up separate Advisory committees in their respective zones. 

Membership of the Committee: 

Secretary of the Social Welfare Department or Board, Secretary of Law Department, Sociologists, Criminologists, Members of Women’s Organizations, Members of Indian Council of Child Welfare, Members of Indian Council of Social Welfare, Members of Voluntary Social Organisations and Associations. 

  1.  All-State Governments and Governments of UTs should take adequate provisions of rehabilitation homes with medical facilities. 
  2. Union Government to set up a committee of its own in line with these guidelines with the aim of implementation of the national level of care, protection, and rehabilitation. 
  3. All-State Governments and Governments of UTs and Central Government to ensure proper implementation of these guidelines

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