Budhadev Karmaskar vs The State of Bengal


Budhadev Karmaskar vs State of Bengal of May, 2022 is one of the historical landmark judgement given by the honourable Supreme Court that paved the rights of the workers involved in flesh trade or simply the sex workers. The verdict given by the Supreme Court established the rights of the sex workers to live with dignity as prescribed under Article 21 of the Constitution of India.

The case not only established the right to live with dignity for the sex workers but also contemplated the Supreme Court to introduce the guidelines to address the distress of the sex workers in order to prevent the possibility of the similar case or scenario in the near future. Furthermore, the case was also a lesson to the common public that sex workers are not mere commodities who can be treated according to one’s wishes just because they chose a certain profession. The case made the public realize the simplest facts that sex workers are just humans like others who deserve to live with dignity like any other citizen of the country.

Facts of the case

On the very horrific night of September 17,  at around 09:15pm, a dreaded murder of a female sex worker aged 45 years Shrimati Chayay Rani Pal alias Buri took place in the red light area of Jogen Dutta Lane that almost shook the conscience of the entire public.

Chayay Rani Pal was a resident of a three storeyed building in the Jogen Dutta Lane. Just before this horrific incident, the victim was sleeping on the second floor of the building, in front of her room near the staircase. The accused Budhadev Karmaskar somehow came on the second floor and stumbled upon the sleeping figure due to which an argument took place.

The argument was later followed by a heated altercation that resulted in fists and kicks subjected to the victim by the accused. The accused not only beat her but also assaulted her which in turn resulted in heavy bleeding.

In spite of the heavy bleeding, Budhadev Karmaskar grabbed her by her hair and pushed her against the wall mercilessly.

Realising this severe outburst between the two, an alarm was raised by the then maid servant of the building, Asha Khatun, who was then present at the time of incident. The alarm made the people gathered at the crime spot and witnessed the victim being mercilessly beaten by the accused.

No sooner was the protest raised, than the victim fled from the crime scene who was later arrested by police at around 02:15 am somewhere around the Jogen Dutta Lane. Meanwhile, Buri was transferred to the hospital where she was declared dead.

Arguments made by the appellant

  • The advocate presented from the side of the accused clearly denied all the accusations made against him.
  • The advocate stated that the statements made by the maid servant Asha Khatun who was also a witness of the horrific incident cannot be admissible under Section 164 of Code of Criminal Procedure of 1973, as she was not present during the time of cross examination.
  • In order to confirm the same, the advocate presented the case of Raghuvir Singh vs The State of Uttranchal.
  • Similarly, none of the witness of the area were present during the cross examination, by stating this, the advocate wanted to cast a shadow of doubt on the persecution story.[1]

Arguments made by the respondent

  • The prosecution from the side of the victim presented the medical report of the deceased. The report made it clear that the victim was mercilessly beaten by fists and legs.
  • The report also confirmed that a total of eleven injuries were found on the body of victim out of which eight were enough to cause death of the victim.
  • Moreover, it was also suggested that there was a sour relationship between the accused and the victim.

Decision of the court

  • It was proved that the accused was guilty of committing murder.
  • It was also proved that there was a sour relationship between the two which resulted in the altercation.
  • The court denied the submission made by the appellant that the statement of the eye-witness, Asha Khatun should not be brought into service for her absence in the cross-examination under Section 164 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973.[2]
  • It was also proved before the bench that the injuries caused by the accused that is, Budhadev Karmaskar to the deceased Chayay Rani Pal alias Buri were enough to cause her death.

Observations by the court

  • The court also stated that sex workers are entitled to equal protection of law.
  • If the sex worker is adult and is in the profession with consent, the police must refrain.
  • Under Article 21 of the Indian constitution. No person shall be deprived of his live or personal liberty.[3]
  • Sex workers should not be penalized or arrested or subjected to harassment in times of raid. “Sex is legal; while the brothel isn’t.”
  • Rights of a child of a sex workers:

Child of a sex worker should not be separated from the mother on the basis of sex trade. If a minor is in brothel, it shouldn’t be presumed that the child is trafficked. Test can be done if they claim to be their children.


The judgement in the case of Budhadev Karmaskar vs the State of Bengal given on May, 2022 is indeed one of the most reformative and historical judgement given by the bench of the Supreme Court. Although respect to a human irrespective of the occupation should be a bare minimum virtue of every human being present out there, but most of the times people tend to forget that sex workers too need to be respected like any other person, do have a right to live with dignity, do have a right to opportunities present for every other person not for the fact they are involved in sex trade but simply because they too are living beings with a living heart and living soul. In the era, where technology is too advanced, where blame game is too common, people tend to forget the simplest logic that brothels runs at a tremendous rate, prostitution runs because the common people visit such places. People who themselves visit such places, who directly or indirectly are responsible for the flourishing of sex trades are the exact people who do not respect the dignity of a sex worker.

The landmark judgement in the case of Budhadev Karmaskar vs the State of Bengal made the common public realize the same. The decisions taken by the bench were worth of praise and reformatory. The decision did not promote the growth of prostitution but instead put a halt on the inhuman treatment that these sex workers go through due to their profession. We as a citizen to the largest democracy of the world needs to realise that people needs to be respected, to be treated with kindness and benevolence irrespective of the profession they do. Hence, this judgement was much needed in such times and also this judgement opened doors of new hopes where it is becoming very clear that the future of the country are in good hands, a country where people would be respected simply because they are human beings and not because of the work they do.

This case brief is prepared by Aaliya Fatima, student at University of Lucknow.

[1] lawbhoomi

[2] lawbhoomi

[3] Article 21, Constitution of India


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