New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Tuesday set up a panel to rehabilitate sex workers in the country.  The court directed the Central and the State governments as well as the Union Territories to carry out a survey of sex workers in their jurisdiction and submit that report to the panel.

A bench comprising of Justice Markandey Katju and Justice Gyan Sudha Misra issued the order after hearing the petition on issues related to the problems and rehabilitation of sex workers.

The division bench declared that panel will be headed by senior Supreme Court counsels Pradeep Ghosh and Jayant Bhushan. It will also include three NGOs engaged in helping sex workers.

The panel would make suggestions for prevention of human trafficking, for rehabilitation of sex workers who want to leave the trade, and for improving the conditions of those who want to continue with it.

The court gave one week to the Central government to file affidavit stating the steps taken by it for the rehabilitation of sex workers, including imparting vocational training.

The court has also directed Tamil Nadu and Madhya Pradesh to file affidavits on the issue.

The court has fixed August 2 as the next date for hearing.

It is noteworthy that the Supreme Court had issued directions to the Centre and the state governments on Feb 14 while dismissing the appeal of an accused in a murder case of a sex worker in Bengal.

The court in its earlier hearing said that women were forced to submit to such compulsions (sex trade) because of poverty.

“Sex workers are also human beings. They should not only be provided vocational training but should also be given wages,” the court observed.