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                Citation: Criminal Appeal No(s). 135/2010

               Bench/Judge: Justices L. Nageswara Rao, B.R.Gavai and A.S. Bopanna


The important ruling on the rights of sex workers is Budhadev Karmaskar v. State of West Bengal. discusses their profession’s respect and dignity in accordance with Article 21 of the Indian Constitution. The Supreme Court issued guidelines in this case to preserve their rights, which include the right to privacy, the right to equal protection under the law, and the right not to be harassed. Because sex workers are also people, they have the same rights to a normal life, including the ability to use their freedom and other human freedoms.

Facts of the Case

  • On one night of 17 September, 1999, around 9:15 pm, a murder happened of sex worker.
  • Decreased name Shrimati Chayay Rani Pal alias Buri whose age was around 45 years, and she lived in the red-light area which is situated in the area of Jogen Dutta.
  • She lived in a three-floor building situated in the area of Jogen Dutta in Kolkata.
  • So, incident started in this way, decreased was sleeping in her room which is near the staircase of the second floor.
  • One person came at that time, name Budhadev Karmaskar and started kicking the decreased with his fists and legs, Due to that decreased started bleeding, so she fell.
  • After that, Budhadev Karmaskar dragged her by her hair and pushed her, because of that her head stuck against the wall.
  • Due to all this misbehaviour, cruelty, she started bleeding from her nose and ear.
  • At that time, one servant who was present on the second floor saw all these things and became the witness of this crime.
  • After some time, informed to police about this incident and police caught the accused in the place of Jogen Dutta Lane itself.
  • Victim went to hospital for surgery but she was declared dead.

Issues Raises

  • Is Prostitution legal in India? If yes, then how to provide a safety for the prostitutes, because this case shows that sex workers are not safe and they don’t have place where they reside safely and gain their rights and freedom.
  • Do they have Equal Protection of law? Article 14 of the Indian Constitution gives the equal protection of law, so is this sex worker included?
  • Do they have equal Human Rights? Article 21[1] of the Indian Constitution says that every person have the right to live with dignity, so this is also applied on the sex workers?
  • Does Governments have guidelines for the protection of their rights.

These are the issues which came after this case and its not the case of only Kolkata but every sex worker who resides in red light area of different corner of our country.

Argument made by the Appellant

  • • According to Section 164 of the Code of Criminal Procedure 1973, the advocate demonstrated that the testimony provided by the witness during the main examination cannot be deemed to be a lie. Code of Criminal Procedure, Section 164: “A confession or statement made to a Metropolitan or Judicial Magistrate, whether or not he has jurisdiction over the case, may be recorded by the magistrate during an investigation conducted under this Chapter, another law currently in effect, or at any point thereafter prior to the start of the investigation or trial; however, no confession may be recorded by a police officer upon whom any magistrate power has been conferred under any currently in effect law.” Furthermore, she failed to appear for the cross-examination.
  • In addition, it was alleged that no one who resided close to the crime scene was contacted to testify as a witness. This is the reason the skilled attorney wanted to cast doubt on some aspects of the prosecution’s story.

Argument made by the Respondent

  • According to the prosecution, there was a strained relationship and periodic arguments between the accused and the deceased.
  • The injury report, prepared by a qualified physician and presented in the prosecution case, claimed that the deceased had been beaten by the accused using his fists and legs. Additionally, the report discovered that eleven separate injuries to the forehead and face contributed to her demise.
  • Eight of the eleven injuries, according to the prosecution, were sufficient to result in death in the normal course of events.


In line with Section 164 of the 1973 Code of Criminal Procedure, the appellant argued that Asha Khatun, the eyewitness, should not have had her statement used as evidence because she was not present during the cross-examination. The court, however, dismissed this claim. The court gave the eyewitness’s statement substantial weight because it supplied a thorough account of the accused’s actions.

The attending physician’s post-mortem report, according to the court, offered more proof of the accused’s responsibility for the grave injuries. It was proven that the accused’s injuries, which were severe enough to happen naturally, caused the death of the deceased.

The verdict in this case demonstrated that the offender was found guilty and given a life sentence by both the Supreme Court and the Calcutta High Court. Additionally, the Supreme Court made a ruling regarding the rights of sex workers, saying that the Central Government must establish appropriate standards to ensure that their freedom and rights are protected.


Additionally, the ruling raised awareness of the problem of sex work and started a discussion about decriminalising it in India. The ruling has influenced courts’ and legislators’ perspectives on sex work in India and has been referenced in a number of later cases. A change in the Indian judiciary’s perspective on sex work was also signalled by the ruling. In the past, law enforcement agencies used to harass and abuse sex workers and frequently treated them like criminals. The ruling acknowledged that economic and social vulnerability frequently leads to sex work, and that making it illegal will only worsen the conditions that sex workers endure.

The ruling has also had a significant impact on how Indian sex work policies are shaped. In response to the ruling, a number of Indian states have moved to give sex workers access to basic facilities and services. A few states have also taken steps to decriminalise sex work; in 2018, Maharashtra became the first to do so.

Nonetheless, there have been some who have criticised the ruling. Some claim that by designating certain areas as red zones and classifying sex workers as a distinct group, the ruling serves to further the stigma associated with the industry. Some have contended that the ruling falls short of fully acknowledging the agency and autonomy of sex workers. In spite of these objections, the Budhadev Karmaskar v. State of West Bengal ruling continues to be a significant ruling in the fight for the rights of Indian sex workers.

It is recommended that the Press Council of India be persuaded to release guidelines cautioning the media to be extremely cautious when reporting on the identities of sex workers following the arrest, raid, and rescue operations. This applies to reporting on whether the workers are suspects or victims, as well as when publishing or airing photographs that may reveal their identities. Furthermore, under the recently passed Section 354C, IPC, which criminalises voyeurism, the media ought to be held accountable for publishing images of prostitutes with their clients while pretending to be reporting on a rescue operation.


As per the Tamil Nadu Police, managing the rescued victims of sex trafficking is a noteworthy challenge. This is a result of the management and sex rackets being cautious of their visit because they are aware of the rescue mission beforehand. Additionally, it is reported that the girls’ families pressure them into the sex industry and recruit them into various gangs, mostly through the use of peddlers and traffickers. As a result, the victims’ rehabilitation would become considerably more challenging, and unless the relationship between the traffickers, the proprietors of the brothels, and the victims’ relatives is severed, any successful rescue attempt would be doomed to fail.

It is evident from this that the sex trafficking industry is thriving as a result of legal loopholes and the police department’s limited authority. Furthermore, most of the money allotted for improving and closely examining brothels in an effort to stop these forced labourers are being used for other purposes, which calls for stringent legal measures.


The legal decision in Budhadev Karmaskar v. State of West Bengal laid the groundwork for sex workers’ national growth, but it’s crucial to keep in mind that social stigma will still keep them from integrating into society at large. Most sex workers are still denied the right to vote and subjected to humiliation in banks, government offices, and other workplaces due to the taboos surrounding their job. Furthermore, this profession is still surrounded by the bulk of unlawful networks, which means that it is illegal for them to be one of the few non-denigrated professions. To counter these networks, the Immoral Trafficking Prevention Act of 1956 mandates more stringent laws. This will eventually maintain this aspect of society and its people positive.


BATCH- 2022-2027


[1] INDIA CONST. art. 21.