BY MISS. VAISHNAVI KRUSHNA PARATE
In the Supreme Court of India
|NAME OF THE CASE||BUDDHADEV KARMASKAR V. STATE OF WEST BENGAL|
|CITATION||CRIMINAL APPEAL NO. 135 OF 2010|
|DATE OF THE CASE||14 February 2011|
|RESPONDENT||STATE OF WEST BENGAL & ORS|
|BENCH/JUDGE||Markandey Katju, Gyan Sudha Misra|
|STATUTES/CONSTITUTION||CONSTITUTION OF INDIA, INDIAN PENAL CODE, 1860, CODE OF CRIMINAL PROCEDURE 1973, IMMORAL TRAFFIC PREVENTION ACT, 1956|
|IMPORTANT SECTIONS/ARTICLES||CONSTITUTION OF INDIA- ART. 14, 19, 21, 142 IPC- SECTION. 302, CRPC- SECT. 164, 357C|
The case highlights another improvement to Article 21 of the Indian Constitution, the right to live with dignity based on the right to life and individual liberty. It reflects the situation of a sex worker and her family. “It also covers other fundamental rights of sex workers, such as freedom of trade and employment, the right to vote and the right to access public means of fields. Buddhadev Karmaskar v. West Bengalis a landmark decision that paved the way for securing the rights of sex workers. “The case exposed the vulnerability of sex workers and the social stigma attached to them. The ruling upheld the right of sex workers to live with dignity enshrined in Article 21 of the Indian Constitution.”
A prostitute is someone who performs sexual services for clients in exchange for cash. Prostitution is seen in various ways around the world, and even within one country, with opinions ranging from outright bans to legalisation to regulation in some instances. The laws are the same for both business and sexual entertainment. Prostitution’s shifting legal and social landscape has produced a wide range of global judgements. varied people have quite varied perspectives about prostitution. Others hold a different opinion, seeing “it as a type of barbarism or cruelty against women and children that helps to fuel the growing crime of human trafficking.” Its existence is attested by the past.
A prostitute who declined to have sex with him was brutally murdered, and Budhadev Karmaskar was accused of carrying out the horrific crime. “The case was concluded in 2004 when the Calcutta High Court found the appellant guilty of murder.” The appellant appealed the punishment meted out to him to the Supreme Court once the judgement of conviction was announced. “Due to the Supreme Court’s affirmation of the decision of the Calcutta High Court and its Suo Motto move of changing the appeal into a Public Interest Litigation, Criminal Appeal No. 135 was dismissed in 2010.”
A sick sex worker in Calcutta’s red-light area was brutally beaten on the head by the appellant Budhadev Karmaskar in 1999 after she declined to have a sexual encounter with him. The decedent was brutally killed by having her head repeatedly slammed on the floor of a room to preserve her sanity and dignity. “The appellant was charged with assault resulting in death as a result of this act, and she was found guilty of the horrific crime of murdering a sex worker.”
The late Chaya Rani Pal, better known as Buri, was a sex worker in Kolkata’s entertainment district Jorgen Datta Lane. On the night of September 17, 1999, she slept outside her room, near the second-floor stairs of a three-story apartment building in the entertainment district of Jogen Datta Alley. The defendant, Budadev Karmaskar, went to him around 9 pm and brutally attacked the dead with his fists and feet. The deceased then fell to the first floor as the defendant pulled his hair and pushed his head against the wall. She had 11 injuries to her face and was bleeding profusely.”
Enraged by the other residents, she fled. One resident, Asha Khatun, witnessed the whole incident. Buri was immediately taken to the Medical College Hospital, where he died. A few hours later, at around 2:00 am, the suspect was arrested by the police only on Jogen Datta Street.
- How should Article 21’s reach and its definition of “life” be applied to guarantee that sex worker and their progeny have access to the right to live with dignity?
- Whether the accused can be booked under section. 302 of the Indian penal code?
- How can sex workers be rehired, saved, and rehabbed in a safer setting?
ARGUMENTS ADVANCED BY THE APPELLANT 
- The learned advocate of the appellant vigorously refused all of the prosecutor’s allegations.
- The learned advocate submitted the statement of the eye witness, Asha Khatun during the chief examination is not admissible under sec. 164 of the criminal procedure code, 1973 also she was not present at the time of cross-examination.
- The learned advocate mentioned the case of Raghubir Singh v. Uttaranchal High Court, for vindicating the same.
- It was also clearly stated that none of the inhabitants of the area witnessed the crime. This reason proves very effective to overshadow the case imposed on the appellant.
ARGUMENTS ADVANCED BY THE RESPONDENT 
- The learned counsel of the deceased questioned and suggested that the relationship between the deceased and the accused were sour and they quarrelled at intervals.
- The statement was given by Abeda, that she heard the noise of an extreme fight she ran to the second floor and saw that the accused was dragging the deceased and also banging her head on the wall.
- The counsel case presented the report of injuries made by a competent physician stating that the accused had beaten the deceased through legs and fists.
- As per the report, there was a total of 11 injuries in various parts of the body of the deceased as the face, head and also forehead which is enough to cause the death.
- Also, they stated that out of 11 injuries 8 were sufficient to cause the death of any ordinary person.
In this case, the appeal was dismissed by the Calcutta High Court. “The court dismissed the applicant’s objection that the testimony of eyewitness Asha Khatun, who was absent from cross-examination under section 164 of the Code of Criminal Procedure 1973, should not be considered.” The defendant was sentenced to life imprisonment by the High District Court. In 2011, the Supreme Court appointed a panel of senior attorneys and judges to consider ways to protect sex workers and their professions. The committee is looking for ways to improve the affected women’s lives. “The court also expressed dissatisfaction over the fact that there was no explanation as to why the accused had an injury near his left eye while the defence’s case was in complete denial.”
- The SC institution approves of the sex labour sector.
In India, sexual servitude is not against the law. Sexual service providers ought to get the same respect and legal safeguards as everyone else. The Supreme Court’s (SC) three-judge panel made this decision in this case. It is a landmark decision. For the sexual service providers who experience acute exploitation, it’s a big relief.
- In India, paid sexual labour is not prohibited.
The Indian Supreme Court has ruled that everyone has a fundamental right to a decent existence, regardless of occupation, and that authorities must take this protection into account when enforcing immoral traffic control legislation.
- Human Sexual Worker Rights
In addition to being the oldest profession in the world, prostitution is also held in the highest regard by society, and sex workers in particular are seen as the weed that needs to be eradicated. “The judiciary has repeatedly stepped in to defend the fundamental rights guaranteed by Part III of the Constitution in the absence of legislation and negligent performance by the executive branch.”
According to reports, “Police enforcement regularly treats sex workers violently and hostilely. As if they are a member of an unacknowledged group whose rights are disregarded.” The police and other law enforcement organisations should be instructed to respect the rights of all sex workers, which are equally guaranteed by the constitution as those of every other citizen.
This entails updating or overhauling current regulations as well as developing new policies and initiatives for sex workers.
It is time to understand that eliminating prostitution workers and outlawing prostitution-related activities won’t make their plight any better; on the contrary, they will be forced to work in secret and will endure mistreatment in all circumstances because prostitution won’t be recognised by the law. “Rehiring those who have been exploited in the sex industry, whether they are prostitutes, sex workers, or victims of the sex trade, is a matter of right and not of sympathy or privilege since the act of prostitution won’t be recognised by the law and there is no legal status that will facilitate benefiting from and correcting the wrongs.”
This landmark ruling is a shocking example of sex workers being abused and murdered by those who demonize them as mere objects. It conveys a social message that such inhumane acts should not be tolerated in a civilized society. The case highlights the plight of sex workers who are driven by poverty rather than working for pleasure. Just because their work carries a social stigma doesn’t mean they don’t have the right to live with dignity.
According to Article 21 of the Indian Constitution, everyone has a fundamental right to life and personal liberty. It does not mean only the existence of animals. But society’s conservative thinking is making this nearly impossible.
Until prostitution is legally recognized as an occupation, sex workers will continue to be exploited by those who look down on them. To help prevent such heinous crimes, the Supreme Court took note of the issue and issued guidelines to protect the rights of sex workers. The decision not only shook the public conscience but also inspired and changed society.
“This case was the first to make the courts and the state think about the inhumane conditions of sex workers and make some changes and orders regarding their rights.” However, some other rights are still denied. The Immoral Trafficking Prevention Act, of 1956 contains several provisions that are grossly inappropriate for the basic right of Indian citizens to engage in commerce in India. It may sound a little immoral, but in a broader sense, if we accept it as a profession, then the places where that profession is practised should also be accepted, so that such is not done at home or in a bar, so it’s even classified. etc
“Section 4 of the Immoral Traffic and Prevention Act, of 1956 is very vague.” Certainly, “he wanted to crack down on such people who forced women into prostitution and made money from it, but with family involvement, it becomes worthless if the children of sex workers have access to higher education. or study at a university where they are punished. This is a warning for their bright future and a violation of their basic rights.”
“Article 8 is a violation of the fundamental right of free contract, the act of sex workers is an act of soliciting an offer, and each person is free to decide whether or not to make an offer. There is no coercion or pressure to accept it.”
 LLB 6th SEM STUDENT AT SHRI. NATHMAL GOENKA LAW COLLEGE, AKOLA MAHARASHTRA
 ‘Article 21 in The Constitution Of India 1949’ <https://indiankanoon.org/doc/1199182/> accessed 5 June 2023.
 ‘Budhadev Karmaskar vs The State of West Bengal on 19 May 2022’ <https://indiankanoon.org/doc/145721634/> accessed 5 June 2023.
 ‘Article 21 in The Constitution Of India 1949’ (n 1).
 ‘Budhadev Karmaskar vs State of West Bengal on 14 February 2011’ <https://indiankanoon.org/doc/1302025/> accessed 10 June 2023.
 ‘Budhadev Karmaskar vs The State of West Bengal on 19 May 2022’ (n 3).
 ‘Budhadev Karmaskar vs. State of West Bengal’ <https://lawbhoomi.com/budhadev-karmaskar-vs-state-of-west-bengal/> accessed 5 June 2023.
 ‘Section 164 in The Code Of Criminal Procedure, 1973’ <https://indiankanoon.org/doc/497457/> accessed 5 June 2023.
 ‘BUDHADEV KARMASKAR V. STATE OF WEST BENGAL & ORS.’ (n 5).
 ‘Budhadev Karmaskar vs The State Of West Bengal on 19 May, 2022’ (n 3).
 ‘Rights of Indian Sex Workers- Analyzing Budhadev Karmaskar v State of WB’ (Lexpeeps, 6 September 2022) <https://lexpeeps.in/rights-of-indian-sex-workers-analyzing-budhadev-karmaskar-v-state-of-wb/> accessed 5 June 2023.
 ‘Fundamental Rights (Articles 12-35) | UPSC Polity Notes’ <https://www.careerlauncher.com/upsc/fundamental-rights/> accessed 10 May 2023.
 ‘Sex Work: How Far A Profession In Light Of Budhadev Karmaskar v/s West Bengal’ <https://legalserviceindia.com/legal/article-10455-sex-work-how-far-a-profession-in-light-of-budhadev-karmaskar-v-s-west-bengal.html> accessed 5 June 2023.
 ‘Article 21 in The Constitution Of India 1949’ (n 1).
 ‘Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act, 1956 – An Overview – Law Corner’ (23 May 2021) <https://lawcorner.in/immoral-traffic-prevention-act-1956-an-overview/> accessed 6 March 2023.
 ‘Section 4 in The Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act, 1956’ <https://indiankanoon.org/doc/91704683/> accessed 5 June 2023.
 ‘Section 8 in The Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act, 1956’ <https://indiankanoon.org/doc/27208336/> accessed 5 June 2023.