NEW DELHI: The Union Cabinet has approved the Trafficking of Persons (Prevention, Protection and Rehabilitation) Bill, 2018 for introduction in the Parliament.
The Bill comprehensively addresses the transnational nature of human trafficking. 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.
The Bill addresses the issue of trafficking from the point of view of prevention, rescue and rehabilitation, and covers aggravated forms of trafficking, which include 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.
The proposed law prescribes 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 is prohibited under the Bill. 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 and immediate protection of rescued victims and their rehabilitation are some other highlights of the Bill.
The victims are entitled to interim relief immediately within 30 days to address their physical, and mental trauma, and further appropriate relief within 60 days from the date of filing of charge sheet. The Bill also has provision for creation of Rehabilitation Fund to be used for the physical, psychological and social well-being of the victim including education, skill development, health care/psychological support, legal aid, and safe accommodation among other things.
Designated courts will be set up 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 prescribed in the Bill ranges from rigorous minimum 10 years to life and a 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 and forfeiture of property and also the proceeds for crime.
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.
The Bill has been prepared in consultation with line Ministries, Departments, State Governments, NGOs and domain experts. 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.