CASE NAME – BUDHADEV KARMASKAR V. STATE OF WEST BENGAL 2022 SCC ONLINE SC 704

CASE COMMENTARY

CITATION: Criminal appeal no. 135/2010

DATE OF THE CASE: February 28, 2022

APPELLANT: Budhadev Karmaskar

RESPONDENT: State of West Bengal

BENCH/JUDGES: Justices L. Nageswara Rao, B.R. Gavai, and A.S Bopanna

LEGAL PROVISIONS: Article 21 of The Constitution of India, 1949, Section 164 of CrPC, 1973

FACTS OF THE CASE

The public’s conscience was shaken on September 17, 1999, at approximately 9.15 p.m., by the horrific death of a 45-year-old sex worker named Shrimati Chayay Rani Pal, also known as Buri, in the red-light district of Jogen Dutta Lane.

She lived in a three-story building on Kolkata’s Jogen Dutta Lane, a red-light district. The deceased had been asleep in front of her room near the building’s second-floor stairs before the event. After the accused fell on the corpse after approaching the second story, there was a loud fight.

The deceased was beaten and kicked by the accused Budhadev Karmaskar, causing her to bleed heavily. The accused smashed her head against the wall and dragged her by her hair after she fell to the ground.

She consequently began to bleed from her ear, nose, and head. One of the eyewitnesses, Asha Khatun, a maidservant who was on the second floor at the time of the occurrence, raised an alarm. As the other prisoners came at the scene of the crime, they saw the accused beating the deceased person viciously.

The accused quickly abandoned the victim where she was, shoved and jostled the bystanders, and ran away as soon as someone voiced a protest. Within five hours of the occurrence, at 2.15 a.m., the culprit was taken into custody by the police on Jogen Dutta Lane. After being taken to the hospital, the person was pronounced dead.

ISSUES RAISED –

  1. How do sex workers and their children fit into the definition of life and article 21 of the right to live with dignity? 
  2. How can we save the sex workers and give them a safer place to work? 
  3. How can sex workers be shielded from those who denigrate them?

CONTENTIONS 

ARGEMENTS MADE BY THE PETITIONER’S SIDE 

  1. The experienced attorney for the appellant angrily refuted every accusation made by the prosecution. 
  2. The learned lawyer argued that because Asha Khatun did not appear for the cross-examination, the statement she gave during the examination-in-chief could not be admitted under Section 164 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973.
  3. The learned lawyer cited Raghuvir Singh v. State of Uttaranchal as evidence for this claim.
  4.  Furthermore, it was argued that no one who lived in the vicinity of the crime scene was called in as a witness. This is why the learned lawyer wished to raise some doubts about the prosecution’s account.

ARGUMENTS MADE BY THE RESPONDENT-

  1. The prosecution’s case implied that the deceased and the accused had a strained relationship and occasionally quarrelled. 
  2. The injury report from a qualified doctor, which was submitted in the prosecution case, claimed that the deceased had been battered by the accused with his fists and legs.
  3.  The study also discovered that eleven separate injuries to the forehead and face contributed to her demise.
  4.  According to the prosecution, eight of the eleven injuries were sufficient to result in death under normal circumstances.

RATIONALE 

Budhadev Karmaskar was judged guilty by the lower court and declared not guilty by the higher court. The man subsequently filed a request for a review of the first court’s ruling before the Supreme Court. The panel has devised a scheme to assist sex workers, which involves providing them with Rs. 10 lakhs from the central government, 5 lakhs from state governments, and 2 lakhs from Union Territories. The aim is to enable them to acquire vocational and technical skills, enabling them to earn a livelihood and advance in society with honour.

JUDGEMENT

  1. The Hon’ble High Court of Calcutta dismissed the appeal in this particular case.
  2. The appellant contended, under Section 164 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973, that Asha Khatun’s statement should not be used as evidence because she did not participate in the cross-examination. However, the court rejected this argument.
  3. The eyewitness’s statement, which provided a detailed account of the accused’s act, was given considerable weight by the court.
  4. The testimony of Asha Khatun, an eyewitness, further demonstrated that there was animosity between the accused and the deceased and that they frequently argued.
  5. It was also established that the altercation started when the accused stumbled over the deceased, who was dozing off next to the stairway.
  6. The court believed that the post-mortem report written by the attending physician provided additional evidence of the serious injuries that the accused had caused. It was established that the deceased person died as a result of the accused’s injuries, which were severe enough to occur naturally.
  7. The court also expressed unhappiness with the defence’s blatant denial and the lack of an explanation for the accused’s injury near his left eye.

DEFECTS OF THE LAW

  1. The Immoral Traffic Prevention Act of 1956 and some of the Supreme Court’s subsequent rulings have significant legal differences. For example, keeping a brothel is illegal as well as operating one, according to Section 3. It is illegal for an adult to become a prostitute for financial gain in Section 4, and it is illegal to seduce someone in public for the purpose of prostitution in Section 8. These sections prevent the latest ruling from stating that one of the jobs is sex work.
  2. Numerous investigators have also mentioned how difficult it is to raid these restricted regions, which is crucial to protecting girls who are detained there without their will because information about them is leaked. 
  3. Additionally, the CRPC has to contain a distinct clause outlining the procedures for those who are involved in human trafficking, similar to what we have for accused women.

INFERENCE

This case brings to light the appalling conditions of sex workers, who perform their jobs out of need rather than a sense of enjoyment. They nonetheless have the right to live with dignity even though their line of work carries a social stigma.

Every person has the fundamental right to life and personal liberty under Article 21 of the Indian Constitution. It goes beyond just being an animal. But it becomes nearly difficult because of society’s stereotyped thinking.

Every action has advantages and disadvantages, and this ruling from the Supreme Court may have contributed to a rise in sex work, both voluntarily and unintentionally. It was necessary to pass new laws that guarantee these individuals all the benefits and a dignified existence since those who voluntarily join the system are deprived of their fundamental rights. Those who are coerced and forced are given remedies under the IPC.  

NAME – LAVANYA MITTAL

COLLEGE- O.P JINDAL GLOBAL UNIVERSITY