31 May 2016 Current Affairs: Union Women and Child Development Minister Maneka Gandhi has released the Draft Trafficking of Persons (Prevention, Protection and Rehabilitation) Bill 2016 on 30 May 2016.
It seeks to create a comprehensive law against trafficking of persons and is victim oriented. It makes clear the distinction between the trafficker and the trafficked.
Highlights of the Bill : Aim: To prevent trafficking of persons and to provide protection and rehabilitation to the victims of trafficking.To create a legal, economic, and social environment against trafficking of persons and related matters
Unifying Existing Laws : It seeks to check human trafficking by unifying and plug loopholes in several existing laws like Indian Penal Code, 1860, Criminal Procedure Code, 1973 and Offenders Act, 1958.
Offences Included : It includes other offences/provisions which are not dealt with in any other law for the purpose of trafficking, such as
a.Penal provisions for the disclosure of identity of the victim of trafficking and witness
b. Use of narcotic drug or psychotropic substance or alcohol for the purpose of trafficking
c.Use of chemical substance or hormones for the purpose of exploitation
Punishment : It calls for confiscation, forfeiture and attachment of property of an accused who uses the premises for committing trafficking related offences as defined in the bill.It makes the trafficking related offences a cognisable and non-bailable offence notwithstanding anything contained in the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973.
Creation of Special Courts : It shall be created by State Government in consultation with the Chief Justice of the High Court by specifying for each district, a Court of Session to be a Special Court.The aim is to tackle trafficking cases and form joint working groups with neighbouring countries to undertake preventive measures.
Special Public Prosecutor : For every Special Court, the Act specifies a Special Public Prosecutor for the purpose of conducting case or cases and offences under sections 370 to 373 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860.To be eligible for Special Public Prosecutor, the person shall possess ten years active practice as an Advocate before a Court of Session having good record of prosecution.
Special Agency for Investigation : The Union Government shall constitute a Special Agency for investigation of offences under the provisions of the Act.
Investigating Officer : The State Government shall designate a police officer of the rank of Gazetted Officer to be an Investigating Officer for investigating offences under this Act and under section 370 to 373 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860.
Protection and Special Homes : It provides for Protection Homes and Special Homes for short term and long term rehabilitation support. These will be in charge of a Welfare Officer who will oversee the management and monitoring of individual care plans of all victims in such homes.
Anti-Trafficking Fund : It envisages creation of a fund for effective implementation of the Act and welfare and rehabilitation of victims of trafficking.
Institutional Mechanism : It provides for a dedicated institutional mechanism at District, State and Central level which is to be formed by appropriate Governments for effective implementation of the Act.At the Centre there will be Central Anti–Trafficking Advisory Board headed by Secretary, Women and Child Development Ministry.At the State there will be State Anti-Trafficking Committee headed by Chief Secretary of the State as the chairperson.At the District level, the implementation will be overseen by District Anti-Trafficking Committee headed by District Collector.
Earlier, to deal with the problem of trafficking and missing children, earlier, the government has launched many initiatives like Khoya-Paya web portal, unique initiative with Railways, pasting of posters in railway coaches, expansion of Children helpline-Childline 1098 among others.
Human Trafficking and Constitutional provision in India : Human trafficking is the trade of humans, most commonly for the purpose of sexual slavery, forced labor, or commercial sexual exploitation for the trafficker or others. At present, Trafficking is the third largest organized crime.
Constitutional provision that bans/prohibits trafficking is : Article 23 of Constitution of India prohibits traffic in human beings and forced labour. Its clause 1 prohibits traffic in human beings and begar and other similar forms of forced labour, making contravention of this provision shall be an offence punishable in accordance with law.
Article 21 of Constitution of India guarantees that no person shall be deprived of his life or personal liberty except according to the procedure established by law.
India has also ratified the United Nations Convention on Transnational Organised Crime and its three Optional Protocols, including the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, especially women and children.