Even sex-workers have a right to refuse their services and seek redressal when forced, the Supreme Court has ruled, overturning a 2009 Delhi High Court judgment and restoring the 10 years jail awarded to four persons by a lower court.

The apex court judgment on Tuesday came on a 1997 gang-rape case in the national capital, asking the convicts to surrender within four weeks to serve the remaining sentence.

“Even assuming that the woman was of easy virtue, she has a right of refusal to submit herself to sexual intercourse to anyone,” the court observed.

A bench of Justices R. Banumathi and Indira Banerjee held that the High Court erred in brushing aside the evidence of the victim by substituting its views and freeing the accused on the ground of they being falsely implicated since they had lodged complaint accusing her of being a woman of bad character, who indulged in prostitution.

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