The fundamental law relating with the sex workers is The Immoral Traffic (Suppression) Act, 1956 which legalizes the practice of prostitution in private but is not permitted to ask for or seduce customers openly and does not allow brothels, prostitution rings etc. The Immoral Traffic Prevention Act, 1986 has amended The Immoral Traffic (Suppression) Act, 1956. The 1986 Act was passed by the Parliament to comply with the United Nations Declaration on the Suppression of Trafficking in 1950 for the purpose of preventing and ultimately prohibiting prostitution to criminalize sex work.
The Act states that the person who carry on or administer or acts or aids in the keeping or administration of a brothel shall be punished with imprisonment and fine according to the provisions of the Act. A person who is a tenant, resident, lessee or any person who is in charge of the premises, utilizes or deliberately permits any one to utilize such premises or any of it part as a brothel or as an owner, property-holder or lessor of the premises or the representative of such person, allows the same or its part with the awareness that it may be utilized for the purposes of a brothel or he is intentionally a party to the utilization of such premises, such person shall be punished with imprisonment and fine as provided under the Act.
It shall also be supposed that any person is intentionally permitting the premises to be employed for the purpose of brothel or has awareness that premises are used for the said purpose where a report has been circulated in the newspaper in the areas where the person resides to the result that the premises are found to be used for prostitution as a consequence of the search. It shall also be presumed if the duplicate of the list of articles that found at the time of search is provided to such person.
Any person above eighteen years of age intentionally earns his livelihood from the payment received from prostitution of any other person shall be punished with imprisonment as specified in the enactment. Where a person above eighteen years of age is established to be living or consistently lives in the company of a prostitute or has applied power, order or authority over the movement of prostitute in the manner to prove that such person is assisting, encouraging or forcing her prostitution or to work as a tout or pimp to help a prostitute it shall be considered that such person intentionally earns his livelihood from the earnings of prostitution of a different person as provided under the Act. Any person, who obtains, encourages or gets person for conducting prostitution or confines a person in the premises or brothel where the sex work is conducted shall be penalized by imprisonment and fine. Where any person conducts the sex work and the person associated with such work that are within the areas specified under the Act or in a place near to religious worship, hospital, educational establishment, restaurants or any other place of public importance which are notified under the authority of the Commissioner of Police or Magistrate shall be punished with imprisonment.
A Special Police Officer and other police officers subordinate to him shall be entrusted for dealing with the offences under the enactment for such areas prescribed by the State government. The Magistrate is empowered under the Act to remove a person from a place, where he receives sufficient information that such person is a prostitute residing in an area within the local limits of the jurisdiction of Magistrate. The State Government is authorized under the Act to constitute protective homes and other corrective institutions for the purposes provided under the Act. The Act empowers the Central and the State Government to establish special courts for speedy justice for the offences under the enactment.
The Act repealed all the State legislations relating to suppression of immoral traffic in persons or prevention of prostitution. The Parliament has initiated The Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Amendment Bill, 2006 which is still under discussion before the two Houses.