Topic: The Trafficking of Persons (Prevention, Protection and Rehabilitation) Bill, 2018
Topic in Syllabus: General Studies Paper 2 : Indian Polity
- The Bill creates a law for investigation of all types of trafficking, and rescue, protection and rehabilitation of trafficked victims.
- The Bill provides for the establishment of investigation and rehabilitation authorities at the district, state and national level.
- Anti-Trafficking Units will be established to rescue victims and investigate cases of trafficking. Rehabilitation Committees will provide care and rehabilitation to the rescued victims.
- The Bill classifies certain purposes of trafficking as ‘aggravated’ forms of trafficking. These include trafficking for forced labour, bearing children, begging, or for inducing early sexual maturity. Aggravated trafficking attracts a higher punishment.
- The Bill sets out penalties for several offences connected with trafficking. In most cases, the penalties set out are higher than the punishment provided under prevailing laws.
- Globally, almost 80% of the human trafficking is related to sexual exploitation, while the rest is bonded labour. And, India is allegedly the hub of these crimes in Asia.
- As per data from National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), in 2013, the maximum number of crimes (65.5%) committed in India were related to human trafficking and were registered under the Immoral Traffic Prevention Act 1956.
- The same year, 31.1% of the crimes were registered under Procuration of Minor Girls (Indian Penal Code Section 366-A).
- According to government data, every eighth minute, a child goes missing (read. trafficked) in India. The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) reveals almost 40,000 children are kidnapped yearly, out of which 11,000 could never be traced.
- Illegal Procuration of Minor Girls for sexual exploitation and/or bonded labour rose drastically by 416% between 2009-13. It was 237 in 2009, while the number increased to 1224 in 2013.
- Trafficking in human beings is the third largest organized crime violating basic human rights.
- There is no specific law so far to deal with this crime. Accordingly, the Trafficking of Persons (Prevention, Protection and Rehabilitation) Bill, 2018 has been prepared.
- The Bill addresses one of the most pervasive yet invisible crimes affecting the most vulnerable persons especially women and children.
- The new law will make India a leader among South Asian countries to combat trafficking. Trafficking is a global concern also affecting a number of South Asian nations. Amongst them, India is now a pioneer in formulating a comprehensive legislation.
- UNODC and SAARC nations are looking forward to India to take lead by enacting this law.
- The Bill has been prepared in consultation with line Ministries, Departments, State Governments, NGOs and domain experts. A large number of suggestions received by the Ministry of WCD in hundreds of petitions have been incorporated in the Bill.
- The Draft Bill discussed in regional consultations held in Delhi, Kolkata, Chennai and Bombay with various stakeholders including over 60 NGOs. The Bill was examined and discussed by Group bf Ministers also.
The Bill states that its provisions will be read in conjunction with other laws and its provisions will apply only in the case of any inconsistency. Key features of the Bill include:
- Addresses the issue of trafficking from the point of view of prevention, rescue and rehabilitation.
- Aggravated forms of trafficking, which includes trafficking for the purpose of forced labour, begging, trafficking by administering chemical substance or hormones on a person for the purpose of early sexual maturity, trafficking of a woman or child for the purpose of marriage or under the pretext of marriage or after marriage etc.
- Punishment for promoting or facilitating trafficking of person which includes producing, printing, issuing or distributing unissued, tampered or fake certificates, registration or stickers as proof of compliance with Government requirements; or commits fraud for procuring or facilitating the acquisition of clearances and necessary documents from Government agencies.
- The confidentiality of victims/ witnesses and complainants by not disclosing their identity. Further the confidentiality of the victims is maintained by recording their statement through video conferencing (this also helps in trans-border and inter-State crimes).
- Time bound trial and repatriation of the victims – within a period of one year from taking into cognizance.
- Immediate protection of rescued victims and their rehabilitation. The Victims are entitled to interim relief immediately within 30 days to address their physical, mental trauma etc. and further appropriate relief within 60 days from the date of filing of charge sheet.
- Rehabilitation of the victim which is not contingent upon criminal proceedings being initiated against the accused or the outcome thereof.
- Rehabilitation Fund created for the first time. To be used for the physical, psychological and social well-being of the victim including education, skill development, health care/psychological support, legal aid, safe accommodation, etc.
- Designated courts in each district for the speedy trial of the cases.
- The Bill creates dedicated institutional mechanisms at District, State and Central Level. These will be responsible for prevention, protection, investigation and rehabilitation work related to trafficking. National Investigation Agency (NIA) will perform the tasks of Anti-Trafficking Bureau at the national level present under the MHA.
- Punishment ranges from rigorous minimum 10 years to life and fine not less than Rs. 1 lakh.
- In order to break the organized nexus, both at the national and international level, the Bill provides for the attachment & forfeiture of property and also the proceeds for crime.
- The Bill comprehensively addresses the transnational nature of the crime. The National Anti-Trafficking Bureau will perform the functions of international coordination with authorities in foreign countries and international organizations; international assistance in investigation; facilitate inter-State and trans-border transfer of evidence and materials, witnesses and others for expediting prosecution; facilitate inter-state and international video conferencing in judicial proceedings etc.
Types of Human Trafficking:
- domestic servitude
- agricultural work
- janitorial services
- hotel services
- health and elder care
- hair and nail salons
- strip club dancing
Punishment for offences under the Bill
|Aggravated Forms of Trafficking||Imprisonment of 10 years to life imprisonment, and fine of at least Rs 1,00,000.|
|Repeat Trafficker of Aggravated Offences||Life Imprisonment, and fine of at least Rs 2,00,000.|
|Buying or selling persons||Imprisonment of 7-10 years, and fine of at least Rs 1,00,000.|
|Trafficking with the aid of media||Imprisonment of 7-10 years, and fine of at least Rs 1,00,000.|
|Manager of premises of trafficking||First time conviction: Imprisonment of up to 5 years with fine of up to Rs 1,00,000;|
Subsequent conviction: at least 7 years with fine of up to Rs 2,00,000.
|Owner/Occupier of premises of trafficking||First time conviction: up to 3 years imprisonment with fine of up to Rs 1,00,000; Subsequent conviction: at least 5 years with fine of up to Rs 2,00,000.|
|Publication or distribution of obscene material which may lead to trafficking||Imprisonment of 5 – 10 years, and fine of Rs 50,000 – 1,00,000.|
|Omission of Duty by an authority||First time conviction: fine of minimum Rs 50,000; Subsequent conviction: up to one year imprisonment with fine of at least Rs 1,00,000.|
Comparison of trafficking under the current Bill with other laws
|Feature||2018 Bill||Bonded Labour Act||Immoral Traffic Act||Juvenile Justice Act||IPC|
|Purpose of trafficking|
|Rescue and Investigation|
|Relief and Rehabilitation|
|Adjudication||· Special Court hears cases|
Comparison of punishment under the Bill with other laws:
The Bill specifies various penalties in connection with the offence of trafficking. If a person is found guilty under the Bill and also under any other law, the punishment which is higher will apply. Table 4 compares the penalties prescribed under some of these laws with the penalties prescribed under the Bill. Note that in most cases, the punishment provided under the Bill is higher than the punishment provided under other laws.
Comparison of punishment under the Bill and other laws
|Offence||Penalty under the Bill||Penalty under Existing Laws|
|Trafficking for prostitution|
|Sexual exploitation of trafficked person|
|Compelling a person to perform bonded labour|
|Trafficking of minors|
|Buying or selling minors|
|Trafficking by administering narcotic drug|
|Kidnapping for marriage|
Why Human Trafficking increasing in India?
- Girls and women are not only trafficked for prostitution but also bought and sold like commodity in many regions of India where female ratio is less as compared to male due to female infanticide. These are then forced to marry.
- Though debt labour is not known much but it is illegal in India and prevalent in our society.
- According to the International Labour Organization there are more than 11.7 million people working as a forced labour in the Asia-Pacific region.
- People running out of cash generally sell their kids as debt labour in exchange for cash. Both boys and girls are sold for this purpose and generally not paid for years.
- Victims of human trafficking have great chances of suffering from issues like mental disorders, depression and anxiety. Women forced into sexual trafficking have at higher risk of getting affected from HIV and other STDs.
Action against guilty:
- Under the Immoral Trafficking Prevention Act (ITPA) trafficking for commercial sexual exploitation is penalized. The punishment ranges from seven years’ to life imprisonment.
- The Bonded Labor Abolition Act, the Child Labor Act, and the Juvenile Justice Act prohibit the bonded and forced labor in India.
- Because of the brutal gang rape of December 2012, government has passed a bill in which laws related to sexual violence and making sex trafficking have been amended.
- But still there is a huge gap between enactment and enforcement of these laws.
Key Issues with the bill:
- Certain forms of trafficking specified in the Bill (like forced labour and sexual exploitation) are also covered by existing laws.
- Some provisions of the Bill are different from provisions for similar circumstances in such laws. As these laws are not being repealed, there may be uncertainty in the implementation of the Bill.
- The Bill punishes an owner or lessor of a premise if he knowingly allows trafficking to be carried out on the premise.
- Under the Bill, the owner or lessor is presumed to have knowledge of the offence, unless they can prove otherwise. This provision may violate Article 21 of the Constitution.
- The Bill provides immunity to a victim only if he commits an offence punishable with imprisonment of more than ten years and not for lesser offences. The high threshold may defeat the purpose for providing immunity.
- The Bill provides for punishment of persons who distribute or publish material which may lead to trafficking. It is unclear as to how it will be determined if the act is likely to result in trafficking.
- The Bill classifies certain forms of trafficking as ‘aggravated’, which attract a higher punishment than other forms.
- Therefore, the punishment for some of the aggravated offences such as begging is higher than the punishment for some other offences such as slavery.
Critically evaluate the Trafficking of Persons (Prevention, Protection and Rehabilitation) Bill, 2018.