"When you say it is the world's oldest profession and when you are not able to curb it by laws, why don't you legalise it? You can then monitor the trade, rehabilitate and provide of medical aid to those involved in the trade," a bench of Justices Dalveer Bhandari and A K Patnaik told Solicitor General Gopal Subramaniam.
The apex court said legalising sex trade would be a better option to avoid trafficking of women and said nowhere in the world has the trade been curbed by punitive measures.
"They (sex trade) have been operating in one way or the other and nowhere in the world have they been able to curb it by legislation. In some cases, they are carried out in a sophisticated manner. So why don't you legalise it?" the apex court said, to which the Solicitor General said he would look into it.
The apex court's remarks came while dealing with a PIL filed by an NGO Bachpan Bachao Andolan and the intervention application moved by Childline complaining about largescale child trafficking in the country.
The bench said child trafficking and sex trade were flourishing because of poverty which needs to be tackled. "We are taking about growing GDP. I do not know what is the development we are all talking about when the number of BPL families is at 37 per cent which has increased from 30 per cent.
"Growth of GDP does not mean some four or five families have developed. If this is the state of development, we can't help it," the bench said while posting the matter for further hearing to January 5.
The contention of the petitioner is that a number of minor children, particularly girls and those of tender age, are being pushed into sex trade.
Childline counsel Nandita Rao alleged several minor girls are being sexually exploited by circus owners and there has to be adequate legal framework to prevent such exploitation.
Responding to her suggestion, the Solicitor General told the bench that government was contemplating a legislation to declare circus as a "hazardous industry" to prevent abuse of child labourers.