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Central Crime Branch raids bars in Bengaluru playing live-band, ‘rescues’ 87 women engaged in bar dancing

According to the police, the raid in Bengaluru was conducted on bars and restaurants that were running without licences, playing illegal live-bands and allegedly engaging women from different states and countries to seduce customers.


AFTER a raid by the Central Crime Branch (CCB) in three pubs in Bengaluru, reportedly nine people were arrested and 87 women were “rescued”. The three establishments, namely, Fuel Restobar on Richmond Road, Club 7 in Amarjyothi HBCS Layout and Shegan Bar and Kitchen on Hennur Main Road were raided by the CCB’s women protection squad on June 17 and 18 in an overnight operation. 

According to another report by Press Trust of India, the raids were conducted on the basis of complaints against illegal live bands in “dance bars”, “ where women were forced to dance in front of customers.” 

The arrested persons were allegedly the owners and managers of the establishments. 

The law

Under the Immoral Trafficking (Prevention) Act, 1956 (ITPA) which deals with prostitution and trafficking, while sex work is not illegal, other activities relating to it are criminalised. 

Among its prominent provisions that penalise “facilitators of commercial sexual exploitation”, Section 3 of the ITPA provides punishment for keeping a brothel, Section 4 punishes living on the earnings of prostitution of another person, and Section 6 penalises for detaining a person in premises where prostitution is carried on.

In relation to the act of prostitution, Section 7 penalises prostitution carried out in a public place and Section 8 punishes seducing or soliciting another person for the purpose of prostitution. Section 10 allows the court to detain sex workers in protection homes. 

In the case of Budhadev Karmaskar versus State of West Bengal (2022), one of the most important observations made by a three-judge Bench of the Supreme Court was that sex workers have a right to live with dignity under Article 21 of the Constitution. Notably, the court gave directions based on the recommendations of a panel constituted by it. 

As per its directions, since voluntary sex work is not illegal, sex workers should not be arrested or penalised or harassed or victimised, thus, providing clear protection to voluntary sex work from criminal prosecution and police intervention. 

It further directed that in the cases of consensual sex work by an adult, that is, where an adult sex worker is engaged in sex work out of her own volition,  the police must refrain from interfering or taking any criminal action. 

Police action

On the functioning of the ITPA that is described as “problematic” in relation to the rights of sex workers, it must be noted that since the offences under ITPA are cognisable, the police are enabled to conduct “raids” where sex workers are “rescued” without consent. 

According to an article published in The Leaflet, sex workers in Bengaluru are facing “serious escalation” in police brutality, seen through the complaints to the Karnataka State Human Rights Commission (KSHRC).

In its Order passed on September 29, 2022, the KSHRC noted the alleged incidences of police harassment of sex workers, particularly, incidents of torture, registering false cases and creating a moral police unit called Obavva Pade, a squad of specially trained women police constables (however, this force was later dismantled). 

The KSHRC recommended compliance by the highest police authorities with certain circulars on refraining from treating sex workers as accused and installing CCTV cameras in police stations (as per the Supreme Court orders).


The Leaflet