Customers in a brothel house are not offenders under the Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act, 1956

Karnataka High Court: A criminal petition was filed under Section 482 CrPC to quash the proceedings in a criminal case filed under the Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act, 1956, where a Single Judge Bench comprising of K.N. Phaneendra, J. held that the offences under ITP Act or under Section 370 IPC are not attracted as far as the customers in a brothel house are concerned.

The petitioners in the instant petition were customers in a brothel house found by the police during a raid. The petitioners were charged as accused in a criminal case for offences punishable under Sections 3, 4, 5 and 7 of the ITP Act. The High Court perused the entire charge-sheet papers and also referred to a few of the earlier decisions pronounced by it on the same or similar matter.

On perusal of the earlier decisions as well as various provisions of the ITP Act, the High Court was of the view that offences under the said sections were not attracted to the customers in a brothel house. It was observed that though the customers virtually encourage prostitution, but in the absence of any specific penal provision, they can not be said to be liable for prosecution for the above said offences. Accordingly, the petitions were allowed and all the proceedings pending against the petitioners in the said criminal case were quashed.

[Chandru S v. State, Crl. Petition No. 5059 of 2017, order dated December 7, 2017]

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