Budhadev Karmaskar Vs.
State of West Bengal
O R D E R
Heard learned Amicus
Curiae and learned counsel for the parties. This case was initially a criminal appeal,
but later was converted into a Public Interest Litigation suo motu by our order
dated 14th February, 2011. By that order we dismissed the criminal appeal of the
appellant and upheld his conviction. However, we were of the opinion that the
problems of sex workers required urgent attention by this Court.
Hence, we proceeded
thereafter to continue with the case as a Public Interest Litigation and passed
several orders thereon, including an order dated 19.07.2011 setting up a Panel with
Mr. Pradip Ghosh, Senior Advocate, as its Chairman. Today, the case has been
listed again before us and a Third Interim Report dated 12.09.2011 of the Panel
appointed by our order dated 19.07.2011 has been filed before us by the
Chairman of the Panel Mr. Pradip Ghosh, learned senior counsel. From a perusal of
the report submitted by the Panel report it appears that the Panel has been
doing very good and sincere work in connection with the task which we have
entrusted to it.
The Panel has taken
great pains and has held regular meetings to discuss the problem of sex workers.
We have earlier pointed out in one of our orders that the problem of sex
workers cannot be resolved in a very short time and will require long, patient effort.
Our initial aim was to create awareness in the public that sex workers are not
bad girls, but they are in this profession due to poverty. No girl would ordinarily
enjoy this kind of work, but she is compelled to do it for sheer survival. Most
sex workers come from poor families, they are subjected to ill treatment by the
owners of the brothels, they are often beaten, not given proper food or medical
treatment, and made to do this degrading work. Probably much of the money paid
by their customers is taken away by others.
We are happy to note that
the Panel has set about its task in right earnest, and is considering ways and
means to implement our ideas so that the sex workers can get some technical training
through which they can earn their livelihood and thus lead a life of dignity which
is guaranteed by Article 21 of the Constitution of India. In the Third Interim
Report the Panel has prayed for the following :-
appropriate order directing the State Governments and the Local Authorities to issue
Ration Cards to the sex workers treating them as persons in special category and
relaxing the rigours of the Rules/requirements regarding the verification of their
address and without mentioning their profession in the Card;
appropriate order be made directing the Central Government and the Election
Commission to issue Voter's Identity Cards to the sex workers in relaxation of the
rules/requirements in that behalf and without insisting on strict proof of their
address/profession and without specifying their profession on the face of the
order be made directing the Central Government and the State Governments to ensure
that the admission of the children of sex workers in appropriate classes in the
Government schools and Government sponsored schools and the schools run by the Municipal
and District level authorities is not hampered in any way, because of their
impaired social status.
appropriate order be made directing the Central Government to suitably alter
and widen the UJWALA Scheme within a period of six months as directed by order
dated 24.08.2011 (vide paragraph 26 of the said order) made in this matter.
order or direction be made to the effect that the amount paid or to be paid by
the Central Government, State Governments and the Union Territories to the Secretary
General of this Hon'ble Court as directed by order dated 24.08.2011, be deposited
in the Bank Account of the Panel in the UCO Bank Supreme Court Compound Branch,
in the name of "Panel Appointed by Supreme Court in Criminal Appeal No. 135/2011"
to be operated jointly by the Chairman of the Panel Mr. Pradip Ghosh and Mr.
Jayant Bhusan, a member of the Panel, in terms of the order dated 24.08.2011.
appropriate orders as may be deemed fit and proper be made, for compliance by
the Central Government of the earlier order made by the Hon'ble Court on
24.08.2011 with regard to office accommodation, secretarial staff assistance
and furnishing the office with necessary infrastructure and to furnish report
of compliance in this Hon'ble Court within a period to be fixed by the Hon'ble
We are of the opinion
that the suggestions of the Panel are good suggestions. Sex workers face great difficulty
in getting ration cards, voter's identity cards or in opening bank accounts, etc.
We are of the opinion that the authorities should see to it that sex workers do
not face these difficulties as they are also citizens of India and have the same
fundamental rights as others. We, therefore, recommend that the suggestions made
by the Panel in its Third Interim Report (which has been quoted above) shall be
seriously taken into consideration by the Central Government, the State Governments
and other authorities and hence all efforts shall be made to implement these suggestions
If there is any
difficulty in implementing them, then on the next date we should be told about
such difficulty. Needless to say, without a proper office and infrastructure the
Panel will not be able to discharge its duties properly. We, therefore, again request
the Central Government and the State Government of Delhi to do the needful in
this connection expeditiously.
We are informed that
in pursuance of our order dated 24.08.2011 the Central Government has deposited
a sum of Rs. 10 Lakh with the Secretary General of this Court. Some of the
States/Union Territories have made payment as directed by us. However, some of the
States/Union Territories are yet to make payment. We direct that those States
or Union Territories which have not yet made payment shall make payment within three
weeks from today (except those which have no sex workers). We further direct that
the amount deposited with the Secretary General of this Court shall be transferred
to the account of the Panel in the UCO Bank, Supreme Court Compound Branch in Savings
A/C No. 02070210000939. List this case on 15.11.2011 by which time another
report shall be submitted by the Panel. We hope and trust that the recommendations
made by the Panel will be implemented by then by the concerned authorities.
(GYAN SUDHA MISRA)
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