Immoral Traffic Prevention Act can be used to prosecute customers of brothels : Kerala High Court

In a recent decision (Mathew v. State of Kerala), the Kerala High Court found that a “client” in a brothel can be prosecuted criminally under Section 7 of the Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act, 1956 (Act), as immoral traffic or sexual exploitation cannot be committed or sustained without a customer.

According to Justice Bechu Kurian Thomas, as sexual exploitation cannot be carried out in a solitary manner, a “client” would fall under the definition of a “person with whom the prostitution is carried on” under Section 7(1) of the Act.

The defendant was accused of violating Sections 3 of the Act (punishment for maintaining a brothel or permitting the use of property as a brothel), 4 (punishment for maintaining a prostitution business as a primary source of income), and 7 (prostitution in or near public areas).

This news is written by Ms. Amrita Singh, Research Assistant, All India Legal Forum.

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