PIL seeks police action against escort service website advertisements

The Bombay High Court has ordered the city police to inform it of the measures it intends to take against advertisements in newspapers and websites that allegedly promote prostitution by offering escort services to women. According to a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) filed by activist Ali Ahmed Siddiqui, prostitution is illegal under the country’s laws, and the police should immediately cease allowing advertisements for this activity. The panel, presided over by Justice Abhay Oka, asked the police what measures it had taken against such advertisements in publications and websites after hearing the petition. Police Inspector of the Social Service Branch, Sanjay Salunkhe, filed an affidavit stating that Cyber Cell police had obtained a court order to expunge or block objectionable websites that provide online escort services. Accordingly, the Cyber Cell of the Mumbai police had forwarded a letter containing a list of 174 domains/websites to the Group Coordinator (Cyber law) of the Department of Information Technology in New Delhi, informing them that the websites were purportedly being used for the illegal purpose of prostitution. The police official stated in the affidavit that it appears no websites have been blocked or deleted by the authorities to date. In addition, the police had registered 25 cases under the PITA (Prevention of Immoral Traffic Act) in 2014 in response to complaints from members of the public. According to him, the number was 32 in 2015 and two this year. The hearing has been postponed until after the June summer holidays. SVS DK RT

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