Draft anti-trafficking Bill proposes crackdown on organised crime syndicates, severe punishment for ‘aggravated’ offences | India News – Times of India

NEW DELHI: In its effort to tighten the noose on traffickers and put in place a rehabilitation framework for survivors, the ministry of women and child development has put out the draft of the Trafficking in Persons (Prevention, Care and Rehabilitation) Bill, 2021 in the public domain asking for feedback till July 14. The bill, once finalised, will need the Cabinet approval and assent from both Houses of Parliament to become a law.
The new Bill comes after a long process of revisions after the Trafficking of Persons Bill 2018, that was passed by the Lok Sabha’s nod amid a heated debate, never made it to Rajya Sabha and lapsed when the Modi government’s first term ended in 2019.
Now this much awaited new draft Bill proposes that any person committing an offence of “trafficking in persons” shall be punished with imprisonment not less than seven years but which may extend to ten years and shall also be liable to a fine of at least one lakh rupees. The bill also lists more severe punishments and penalties for offences classified as “aggravated forms of trafficking.” The Bill also brings in tough measures to crackdown on organised crime syndicates, organised criminal groups including offences with cross border implications.
The National Investigation Agency shall act as the national investigating and coordinating agency responsible for prevention and combating of trafficking in persons. Once the law is enacted, the Centre will notify and establish a National Anti-Human Trafficking Committee, for ensuring overall effective implementation of the provisions of this law. This committee will have representation from various ministries with the home secretary as the chairperson and secretary of the women and child development ministry as co-chair. State and district level anti-human trafficking committees will also be constituted to execute the law on ground.
In the section on offences and penalties, “Trafficking in Persons” is defined to include “a) any person who recruits, transports, transfers, harbours or receives another person; b) by means of threat or use of force or other forms of coercion, of abduction, of fraud, of deception, of the abuse of power or of a position of authority or of vulnerability, or of the giving or receiving of payments or benefits to achieve the consent of a person having control over another person; (c) for the purpose of exploitation of that person; shall be guilty of an offence of trafficking in persons.”
The Bill elaborates on “exploitation” in the definition to say that it will include the “prostitution of others” or other forms of sexual exploitation including pornography, any act of physical exploitation, forced labour or services, slavery or practices similar to slavery, servitude or forced removal of organs, illegal clinical drug trials or illegal bio-medical research or the like.
Some examples of aggravated offences listed in the Bill include offences that result in the death of the victim or his dependent or any other person, including death as a result of suicide. Aggravated offences will be made out in cases where the victim, or his dependent or any other person suffer an injury amounting to grievous hurt, or acid attack, or genital mutilation or removal of organs, or an injury or exploitation that causes him to be in a persistent vegetative state. This also includes cases where the offence has been caused by administering any chemical substance or hormones on a person for the purpose of early sexual maturity.
It is proposed that whoever commits the offence of aggravated form of trafficking of a person shall be punishable with a term for ten years but which may extend to imprisonment for life and shall also be liable to fine which may extend to Rs 10 lakh.
Where a person is convicted of an offence under this section against a child of less than twelve years of age, or against a woman for the purpose of repeated rape, the person shall be punished with rigorous imprisonment for twenty years, but which may extend to life. In case of second or subsequent conviction, the accused may be punished with death sentence. The fine may extend up to Rs 30 lakh.
When a public servant, or a police officer, or a person in charge of or a staff of a women’s or children’s home or institution is involved, he shall be punishable on conviction for the remainder of natural life and fine of up to Rs 30 lakh.
The bill also makes it clear a person advertising, publishing, printing, broadcasting or distributing any material that promotes trafficking of a person or exploitation of a trafficked person will invite punishment.
Also every person who knows or has reason to believe that a person has been trafficked shall report the same to the nearest police station. Failure to report shall be punishable with imprisonment that may extend to three months or with fine up to Rs 25,000 or both.
The Bill also lays down the timeframe for granting compensation. The draft states that on registration of the first information report, the investigating officer shall forward a copy of the same to the district anti- human trafficking committee and the district legal services authority (DLSA), which shall provide immediate relief to the victim and dependent, including aid and assistance for medical and rehabilitation needs, within seven days.
The proposed draft also states that the DLSA shall award interim relief to a victim or any dependant within a period of thirty days of an application submitted and after due assessment. The district anti-human trafficking committee too shall ensure relief and rehabilitation of the victim and dependent after registration of FIR and within thirty days of an application having been made in this regard by or on behalf of the victim.
To prevent the traffickers from using their properties and assets for further abuse, the bill states, “whoever owns, possesses or otherwise acquires any property, whether in India or outside, out of proceeds of commission of an offence shall be punishable with a term which shall not be less than three years but which may extend to imprisonment for life.” The trafficker will also be slapped with a fine of not less than Rs 2 lakh but which may extend to Rs 1 crore and such property shall also be liable for attachment and forfeiture.

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