12th August, 2021 – Case Analysis: Chitan J. Vaswani and Another V. State of West Bengal and Another by Vasu @LEXCLIQ

Case Number

Criminal Appeal No. 300 of 1975

Equivalent Citation

1975 AIR SC 2473, 1975 SCC 2 829.

Bench

V.R Krishna Iyer, A.C Gupta, JJ.

Decided on

October 10, 1975

Relevant Act/ Section

The Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act, 1956

Brief Facts and Procedural History

The location is the Isias Bar, which is located at 15, Free School Street in Calcutta. A midnight invitation to have a good time with sylphs is extended by a hall of enchantment. The entrance price is a pittance of Rs 15 per person, and there is energizing booze served inside. To the exhilarating tune of band music, scantily clad female flesh of sweet seventeen or thereabouts fly about. The stage is busy with many men and women moving from one room to other. Many bars or restaurants provide a suitable platform for the operation of brothels. Similarly in this case, when the men indulge in promiscuous sex, police and excise officers entered the scene. When the Act entered into effect, a prosecution was brought against numerous people under Section 7, and two people, the proprietor, and manager of the Isias Bar were found guilty and sentenced.

Procedural History

An appeal to the High Court was largely unsuccessful, while the State’s appeal was somewhat successful. The conviction was amended to some extent by the High Court, and the Supreme Court had to continue on the assumption that the accused had been found guilty of offenses under Sections 7(2)(a) and 3(1) but acquitted under Section 7(2)(b). The more pertinent element of the present appeal was that an order was made under Section 18(1) when read with Section 18(2) directed the occupiers of the portion of Premises Nos. 15 and 15.A, Isias Bar or the Free School Street to be evicted therefrom within a period of seven days from the date of that order and restore possession thereof to the owner landlord. The Supreme Court had given special leave to challenge this eviction order under Section 18(2), read with Section 18(1). (1).

Issues before the Court

The scope of the concerned arguments was limited to the right to evict the tenant of the guilty premises after conviction for Sections 3(1) and 7(2)(b) offenses, in addition to the term imposed.

Ratio of the Case

In Sub-Divisional Magistrate v. Ram Kali, AIR 1968 SC 1, this Court ruled that Section 18(1) applies to one class while Section 18(2) applies to another. Section 18(1) is a one-time method for shutting down obnoxious prostitution establishments without having to go through the lengthy process of criminal prosecution.

It’s a quick-reacting defense mechanism designed to put out the flames and promote immediate moral sanitation in locations like shrines, schools, hostels, and hospitals, all of which are socially vulnerable. Section 18(2), on the other hand, only applies to anyone who has been convicted of crimes under Sections 3 or 7. Thus the place is found to be engaged in prostitution trial. It follows to reason that if the goal of removing the business vice from that location is to be accomplished, the occupier must be ejected. In this scenario, this is exactly what has been done. Section 18(2) applies to all locations where prostitution activity has taken place, not only those within 200 yards of the offending distance.

Decision of the Court

The Supreme Court dismissed the appeal, affirming the Magistrate’s power to order eviction when a conviction under Section 3 or Section 7 occurs, confident that public power vested in a public functionary for the public good will be exercised whenever the conditions for doing so exist, achieving a broad social goal of moral clean-up of public places.

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