The trial court in Mumbai upheld a magistrate court’s order, detaining a woman in a protection home, saying that because of her HIV-positive status, she was likely to “pose a threat to society”.
The woman’s father, a police officer, appealed against the instant decision on 20 August 2021. The woman is said to have worked as a sex worker and was arrested by officers from the airport police station.
The court had arrested the woman under Section 17 (4) of the Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act,1956 (PITA Act).
Section 17 (4) stipulates that if the judge is of the opinion that the person is in need of care and protection, he can order that the person be given to a foster family or to another custody owed by them, reasons that are recorded in writing, considered appropriate.
The woman’s father said the judge had not properly assessed the facts and legal provisions. The father informed the trial court that his daughter was an actor and that he had the economic opportunity to support her. The lawyer informed the court that the victim was ready to go with his family and was arrested because of a misunderstanding.
On the other hand, the prosecutor resisted the charge, saying the victim was caught whipping and sent to vocational training for being HIV positive.
The trial court noted that the judge ordered the victim’s arrest because it was found to be HIV positive and the possibility of transmission through sexual relations existed. It was also considered that the victim should be rehabilitated with counseling.
Additional sessions Judge SU Baghele stated that the FIR was prima facie correct and the woman was working as a sex worker.
“As she is indisputably suffering from HIV, which can be easily transmitted through sexual intercourse. Thus, the victim at large is likely to pose a danger to society,” stated Judge Baghele.
The judge added, “The care and protection of the victim can also be ensured, by detaining her, as directed by the learned Magistrate, so as to ensure that the victim leads a normal life in future, after getting necessary brainwashing. There is no substance in the submission that the victim (woman) is not likely to indulge in such immoral activities, being financially sound, looking to the factual matrix, as prima facie apparent from the FIR, whereby the victim is said to have agreed to indulge in prostitution at the particular moment, by accepting Rs 1 lakh.”