NATIONAL LEGAL RESEARCH DESK
This writ application has been filed by an NGO taking up the cause of the commercial sex workers residing in Mallisahi at Bhubaneswar. According to the petitioner, the members of the weaker sex being victims of circumstances like extreme poverty or having been forced by abductors to take up such activities, have become as such and no other avenue is available to them, they are compelled to work as such for their survival.
This Court specifically directed that in the counter affidavit, the State Government will furnish the details of the actions so far taken and proposed to be taken, regarding rehabilitation of the victims of commercial sexual exploitation as per the direction of the Supreme Court made in the case of Gaurav Jain v. Union of India and Ors. . In spite of such specific direction, though this matter is pending before this Court from the year, 1998, no counter affidavit whatsoever has been filed on behalf of the State. Such inaction of non-filing of the counter affidavit, ex facie discloses the callous attitude of the State Government towards the victims as well as the scant regard to the orders passed by this Court wherein it was directed to file counter affidavit, as stated earlier.
The High Court reiterated the decision of the SC in Gaurav Jain’s case wherein the Court held that it is the duty of the State and all voluntary non-government organizations and public spirited persons to come in to their aid to retrieve them from prostitution, rehabilitate them with a helping hand to lead a life with dignity of person, self-employment through provisions of education, financial support, developed marketing facilities as some of major avenues in this behalf. Marriage is another object to give them real status in society. Acceptance by the family is also another important input to rekindle the faith of self-respect and self-confidence. Housing, legal aid, free counselling assistance and all other similar aids and services are meaningful measures to ensure that unfortunate fallen women do not again fall into the trap of red light area contaminated with foul atmosphere.
The Court also reiterated from the said decision, that “The society should make reparation to prevent trafficking in women, rescue them from red light areas and other areas in which the women are driven or trapped in prostitution.” Further, that their rehabilitation by socio-economic empowerment and justice is the constitutional duty of the State and that their economic empowerment and social justice with dignity of persons are the fundamental rights and the Court and the Government should positively endeavour to ensure them.
The Court reiterated the observations of the Supreme Court in Gaurav Jain’s case, that in the given case the Legislature has already done its duty. And the Executive and the Judiciary were required to act in union to ensure enforcement of fundamental and human rights of the fallen women.
Finally the High Court directed the State of Orissa to take immediate measures in accordance with the decision of the apex Court in the case of Gaurav Jain (supra) so as to rehabilitate the fallen women (commercial sex workers) residing at Mallisahi in Bhubaneswar by providing minimum amenities like water supply, electricity etc. by undertaking awareness camps to make such victims aware of their rights under the Constitution, providing minimum education to the children of such victims, providing health care so as to prevent spreading of AIDS and providing alternate accommodation to them. In the event it is decided to evict the said inhabitants of Mallisahi who are in such category, without complying with the aforesaid direction, such victims/commercial sex workers residing over Government land, admittedly for the last forty years, shall’ not be evicted from their place of residence which are under their occupation.