1. This is a special appeal by four women whose application under Article 226 of the Constitution was dismissed by a learned single Judge of this Court.
2. The appellants complained that the Municipal Board, Agra was enforcing a byelaw which it had made in 1948 and under which the Municipal Board could direct that a public prostitute may not reside within a specified area of the city of Agra. Under that byelaw the mohallas where the public prostitutes were not to reside were specified and then it was provided that no person shall let or otherwise dispose of any house or building to public prostitutes or for a brothel within the area or in the streets so specified.
The byelaw further provided for a penalty of Rs. 50/- for breach of the provisions of the aforesaid byelaw and when the breach was continuing breach, for a further fine of Rs. 5/- for every day after the date of first conviction during which the offender was proved to have persisted in the offence.
3. The Executive Officer of the Municipal Board, Agra, issued notices to the appellants to remove themselves from the locality which fell within the purview of the byelaw, on failing which further legal action would be taken against them. Some of them failed to remove themselves from the locality in question. Thereupon a prosecution was launched against them and the case is pending in Court. They then made an application under Article 226 of the Constitution in this Court, which, as already stated by us, was dismissed by the learned single Judge.
4. In the application the applicants had urged that they were not public prostitutes, but were singing and dancing girls. The learned single Judge observed that as, according to their allegation, they were not public prostitutes, the byelaw did not apply to them at all, and that, therefore, they had no locus standi to challenge the byelaw in this Court.
It was also pointed out by the learned Judge that the Municipal Board had no authority under which it could physically remove the applicants from their houses although the Municipal Board could prosecute them and that therefore their proper course was to defend the criminal case pending against them.
5. Learned counsel for the appellants contends that the byelaw is ultra vires on two grounds : firstly, it imposes an unreasonable restriction upon the right to carry on a trade which is guaranteed under Article 19(1)(g) of the Constitution, and, secondly, because the byelaw does not provide for any opportunity being given to an aggrieved person to lead evidence before notice is issued by the Municipal Board to show that she is not a public prostitute.
6. So far as the second contention is concerned, it may be pointed out that the appellants will have ample opportunity to prove their contention in the criminal case pending against them. There was, therefore, no necessity of providing any other opportunity to an aggrieved person to show that she is not a public prostitute. As regards the first contention we do not think it can be said that the bye-law is unconsitutional on the ground that it imposes an unreasonable restriction upon the right of plying the trade of a public prostitute.
We do not decide the larger question whether a law or a byelaw can be made which totally prohibits a prostitute from carrying on her trade. The question in the present case is a limited one viz., whether the Municipal Board has power to frame a byelaw which could restrict the applicants from carrying on their trade within a specified locality of the Municipal area. We have no hesitation in holding that the restriction on carrying on trade of public prostitution within a specified area of the Municipality is eminently a reasonable one. In the interests of the health and morals of the persons of a particular locality the Municipal Board may properly direct that public prostitutes may not carry on their trade in that locality
7. There is no force in this appeal. It is, accordingly, dismissed.