Case Law Database

Trafficking in persons

Vishal Jeet v. Union of India

Fact Summary

This writ petition under Article 32 of the Constitution of India at the instance of an Advocate was filed by way of a Public Interest Litigation seeking issuance of certain directions, to look into issues of Red Light areas and forced prostitution from a law enforcement perspective; to rescue victims of commercial sexual exploitation and provide them with proper medical aid, shelter, education and training in various disciplines of life so as to enable them to choose a more dignified way of life; and to look into issues pertaining to dedication of young girls as Devadasi and Jogin.

The petition brought out the fact that poor parents on account of acute poverty were selling their children and young girls hoping that their children would be engaged only in household duties or manual labour. However, pimps - brokers - keepers either purchase or kidnap them by deceitful means and unjustly and forcibly inveigle them into 'flesh trade'.

The Supreme Court (SC) held that this matter is one of great importance warranting a comprehensive and searching analysis and requiring a humanistic rather than a purely legalistic approach from different angles. The questions involved cause considerable anxiety to the Court in reaching a satisfactory solution in eradicating such sexual exploitation of children. The court stated that this malady is not only a social but also a socio-economic problem and, therefore, the measures to be taken in that regard should be more preventive rather than punitive.

The SC examined the Constitutional provisions pertaining to right against exploitation; traffic in human beings and rights of children; principles enumerated by the Declaration of the Rights of the Child, 1959.

Considering all aspects of the matter before it, the SC issued the following directions inter alia to the State Governments and Union Territories:

  1. 1. Direct concerned law enforcing authorities to take appropriate and speedy action under the existing laws in eradicating child prostitution.

  2. 2. Take steps in providing adequate and rehabilitative homes.

  3. 3. Set up separate Advisory Committee consisting of relevant government officials, sociologists, criminologists, members of the women/ child welfare/ voluntary social organizations to make suggestions for eradicating child prostitution and the devdasi and jogin tradition; and measures for care, protection, treatment, development and rehabilitation of victims.

Commentary and Significant Features

This Public Interest Litigation was a first of its kind on the problem of trafficking in women and children for sexual abuse and exploitation. The judgment was a landmark decision where the Supreme Court gave directions for the protection and rehabilitation of those who had fallen victim to forced prostitution and those who were dedicated as devdasis by their families or communities for cultural reasons and were currently in prostitution.

The Ministry of Women and Child Development, Government of India, issued an Advisory dated 12.10.2011, on measures to be taken by States and Union Territories for combating trafficking of women and children for commercial sexual exploitation. Copy of the Advisory may be referred at -

UNODC Regional Office for South Asia


Trafficking in Persons Protocol:
Article 3, Trafficking in Persons Protocol
Article 5, Trafficking in Persons Protocol
Article 6, Trafficking in Persons Protocol
Article 9, Trafficking in Persons Protocol
Threat or use of force or other forms of coercion
Purpose of Exploitation:
Exploitation of the prostitution of others or other forms of sexual exploitation
Form of Trafficking:
Organized Criminal Group
Sector in which exploitation takes place:
Commercial sexual exploitation

Cross-Cutting Issues


Involved Countries


Procedural Information

Legal System:
Common Law
Latest Court Ruling:
Supreme Court

1st Instance:

Supreme Court of India, New Delhi, Date of decision: 1990 - 05 - 02


Victims / Plaintiffs in the first instance

Vishal Jeet
Advocate practising in Supreme Court of India (filed Public Interest Litigation)

Defendants / Respondents in the first instance

Union of India and Ors.

Charges / Claims / Decisions

Union of India and Ors.
Legislation / Statute / Code:

Constitution of India (Articles 23, 32, 35, 39); Suppression of Immoral Traffic in Women and Girls Act, 1956; Juvenile Justice Act, 1986 (Sections 13, 15)


Supreme Court of India

Sources / Citations

AIR 1990 SC 1412; 1990 (38) BLJR 1384; 1990 CriLJ 1469; JT 1990 (2) SC 354; (1990) 3 SCC 318; [1990] 2 SCR 861; 1990 (2) UJ 385