The central government is set to introduce a new legislation that will address human trafficking in all its forms and enforce increased penalties for trafficking of minors and for repeat offenders.
It is on the directive of the Supreme Court, while hearing a public interest litigation in December 2015, that the Ministry of Woman and Child Development has decided to move a comprehensive legislation that will look beyond trafficking of women and children for the purpose of sexual exploitation. Officials said the new law will also have a component for rehabilitation of the victims.
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“Human trafficking is the third largest organised crime in the world after arms and drug trade. It has acquired many dimensions with people being trafficked or smuggled for the purpose of forced labour, domestic work, organ harvesting and begging. The Supreme Court felt that there must be a single law that tackles all kinds of trafficking whether on a national or international scale. The new law will remove the existing ambiguities in definition and have severe penalties for trafficking of minors and in case of repeat offenders,” said a ministry official. The ministry has also sanctioned money from the Nirbhaya fund for setting up of an organised crime investigating agency to look into the issue.
Data from the National Bureau of Crime Records shows that crime related to human trafficking has gone up by 59.7 percent between 2010 and 2014. The records, however, mainly pertain to trafficking for the purpose of sexual exploitation under which total of 5,466 such incidents have been registered.
The ministry is expected to submit its concept note on the proposed legislation to an inter-ministerial panel on January 27. The panel will include representatives from the ministries of Home Affairs, External Affairs, Labour, Health and Family Welfare, and Law. Once approved by the panel, the proposal will be sent to the law ministry for preparing the draft legislation.
Currently, the issue of trafficking is dealt through various legislation including Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act (ITPA), Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act and sections of the Indian Penal Code and Code of Criminal Procedure.
According to officials, these either exclude certain types of trafficking or have provisions that are inadequate or contradictory in nature. For instance, ITPA deals merely with trafficking for the purpose of sexual exploitation and yet fails to clearly define sexual exploitation.