The Immoral Traffic Prevention Act, 1956 was enacted to inhibit or abolish the traffic in women, men and children for the purpose of prostitution as an organized means of living.
Madras High Court in Re Ratnamala ( AIR 1962 Mad 31), observed that:
“It is no doubt true that what is aimed at under the Act is not abolition of prostitution and prostitutions as such and make it per se criminal offence…the purport of the enactment was to inhibit or abolish commercialized vice, namely, traffic in women and girls for purpose of prostitution as an organized means of living”.
Important provisions of the Act:
Meaning of “Brothel”: Brothel is defined in Section 2 (a) of the Act as follows:
In this Act, unless the context otherwise requires—brothel includes any house, room, conveyance, or place, which is used for purposes of sexual exploitation or abuse for the gain of another person or for the mutual gain of two or more prostitutes.
Definition of “Prostitution”: According to Section 2 (f) of this Act, prostitution means the sexual exploitation or abuse of persons for commercial purposes and the expression “prostitute” shall be construed accordingly.
Punishments under the Act:
For keeping a brothel ( Section 3): Any landlord, owner lesser, tenant, occupier or lessee is punishable if he knowingly uses the premises for prostitution, or allows the use of it or any part of it, or is willfully a party to the use of such premises for brothel. The punishment is not less than two year’s and not more then five years imprisonment with fine extendable to two thousand rupees.
For living on the earnings of prostitution (Section 4): (1) Any person over the age of eighteen years who knowingly lives, wholly or in part, on the earnings of the prostitution of (any other person) shall be punishable with imprisonment for term which may extend to two years, or with fine which may extend to two thousand rupees, or with both (where such earnings relate to the prostitution of a child or a minor, it shall be punishable with imprisonment for term of not less than seven years and not more than ten years).
(2) Where any person over the age of eighteen years is proved:
(a) to be living with, or to be habitually in the company of prostitute; or
(b) to have exercised control, direction or influence over the movements of a prostitute in such a manner as to show that such person is aiding, abetting or compelling his prostitution; or
(c) to be acting as a tout or pimp, on behalf of a prostitute.