A group of four women from GB Road,the Capitals red light area,have approached the Delhi High Court challenging a sub-divisional magistrates order for their eviction from their homes under the Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act.
A division bench of Acting Chief Justice A K Sikri and Justice Rajiv Sahai Endlaw on Thursday said they would not be evicted till the court decided on the issue. The court also decided to hear their plea on Monday.
The women requested the court to declare Section 18 of the Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act as unconstitutional and ultra vires,saying the Section mandates the closure of alleged brothels and eviction of alleged occupants from the premises without providing any rehabilitation or alternative location to settle down.
They claimed that they have been staying in the area for more than a decade and were not involved in the business of running any brothel,yet,under the garb of Section 18 of the Act,the sub-divisional magistrate of Paharganj passed an order on July 21 for eviction from their homes.
The eviction order was based on allegations that their houses were used as brothels and were within 200 metres of a school.
The order,directing the eviction of the petitioners from their residential premises without providing them an opportunity of being heard,is invalid and bad in law and should be quashed immediately, their petition said.
The Act never intended to penalise prostitution per se,except in public places or to punish the prostitute herself,but aimed at curbing commercialised or organised prostitution, the petition said.
The petitioners said the Delhi government has not framed any rules relating to Section 18 and has not laid down any statutory guidance on it.
There is no legislative guidance on implementation of Section 18. As such,absolute discretion is vested on police to follow any procedure… This has resulted in arbitrariness in action and abuse of power and authority. It violates Article 14 (equality of citizens) of the Constitution, the petition said.