In the instant case of XXX v. State of Maharashtra a plea for release from detention under Section 17(4) of the Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act, 1956, and for setting aside the victim’s appeal under Section 397 of the Criminal Procedure Code, 1973.
The defendant was an accusation victim. After receiving information, the police carried out a raid, leading to the filing of a First Information Report against the accused and victims. The victims went through the age verification process, and the appellant’s intermediate custody was extended for an additional year of care because he was revealed to be a major in a medical report and needed protection and shelter as of the date of the order. The Magistrate made this observation because the appellant was a repeat offender who had previously promised not to engage in such activities but continued to do so while disregarding court orders and the law. Three victims were saved in total; the Magistrate discharged the remaining two victims.
Observation of the court
The ruling was reversed and set aside by a one-judge panel presided over by Additional Sessions Judge C.V. Patil, who also upheld the appellant’s freedom of movement and the right to live and stay wherever in India.
To support the victim’s appeal for release after her liberty was restricted by the Magistrate’s ruling of 15 March 2023, the Court stated that the victim has the freedom to migrate and dwell anywhere under Article 19 of the Indian Constitution. The court ruled that the current instance is not one of victim-harming influence but rather one of incarceration during the investigation.
The Court cited Budhadev Karmaskar v. State of W.B. and said that there was no evidence of the victims being coerced into engaging in the sex job because they were already doing it for which they were being paid. The appellant is a victim who was discovered engaging in sex work, not in a public setting, with the desire make money, according to the court. The offence is registered against the accused who was discovered operating the abovementioned institution. The appellant, a 34-year-old lady with two children, and the fact that her husband also sought custody were also noted by the court. However, given her advanced age, the court noted that the appellant is free to live and travel as she pleases and that the victim has only been held due to prior events. According to the Court, “the freedom of an Indian citizen to roam freely throughout the whole Indian subcontinent and the right to remain and establish oneself in any location within the Indian subcontinent are both protected under Article 19(1)(d) and (e), respectively. The case is serious; she is an Indian citizen, and her right to freedom of movement would be violated if she were to be kept without cause.
Given that the appellant appeared before the magistrate on 19 February 2023 and that, by law, imprisonment could not last more than three weeks from the date of inquiry, the court declared the order made by the magistrate on 15 March 2023 to be invalid and improper. While allowing the appeal, it quashed and reversed the aforementioned Magistrate’s order.