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Report No. 146

3.2. The Constitutional aspect.-

The Constitution of India in Article 23, inter alia, prohibits the traffic in human beings and envisages that such conduct shall be an offence punishable by law. This is a fundamental right and obviously it is the intendment of the Constitution that the necessary legislation be found on the statute book. Of course, this, does not mean that a new (post-Constitution) legislation should be enacted for the purpose.

Besides this, the broad objective of social justice underlying the Constitution and the specific provisions in the Part containing Directive Principles of State Policy, which direct that the State must prevent exploitation of women and children, envisage that conduct in the nature of exploitation be discouraged. It is an imperative of the Constitution that-

(i) the content of the existing statutes be studied, in order to consider how far they carry out the constitutional mandate, and

(ii) in so far as the, existing statute may be found to be inadequate, necessary amendment be made in the law.

It cannot be denied that the sale of women and children, whatever be the object of such sale, amounts to traffic in human beings or partakes of the character of such traffic. Even if it be argued that "traffic" contemplates a systematic course of conduct (i.e. a series of acts) and may not embrace an isolated act of sale, it should be emphasised that an isolated sale offends the spirit of Article 23, if not its letter.

Sale of Women and Children Back

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