Trafficking in Persons (Prevention, Care and Rehabilitation) Bill, 2021

News: Recently the Ministry of Women and Child Development released Draft anti-trafficking Bill, the Trafficking in Persons (Prevention, Care and Rehabilitation) Bill, 2021. The bill once finalised will need the Cabinet approval and assent from both the houses of Parliament to become a Law. A previous draft had been introduced in 2018 but that could not be introduced in Rajya Sabha amid stiff opposition from Parliamentarians and experts.

Background:

  • Trafficking in Human Beings or Persons is prohibited under the Constitution of India under Article 23 (1).
  • The Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act, 1956 (ITPA) is the premier legislation for prevention of trafficking for commercial sexual exploitation.
  • Criminal Law (amendment) Act 2013 has come into force wherein Section 370 of the Indian Penal Code has been substituted with Section 370 and 370A IPC which provide for comprehensive measures to counter the menace of human trafficking.
  • According to the Trafficking in Persons report 2021, released by the US State Department, the Covid-19 pandemic has resulted in an increase in vulnerability to human trafficking and interrupted existing anti-traffic efforts.
  • While India did not meet the minimum standards to eliminate trafficking, the government was making significant efforts, although these were inadequate, especially when it came to bonded labour.

Highlights of the New Bill:

  • It extends to all citizens inside as well as outside India,
  • Persons on any ship or aircraft registered in India wherever it may be or carrying Indian citizens wherever they may be,
  • A foreign national or a stateless person who has his or her residence in India at the time of commission of offence under this Act, and
  • The law will apply to every offence of trafficking in persons with cross-border implications.
  • It extends beyond the protection of women and children as victims to now include transgenders as well as any person who may be a victim of trafficking. It also does away with the provision that a victim necessarily needs to be transported from one place to another to be defined as a victim.
  • The exploitation of 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.
  • Offenders will also include defence personnel and government servants, doctors and paramedical staff or anyone in a position of authority.
  • A minimum of seven years which can go up to an imprisonment of 10 years and a fine of Rs 5 lakh in most cases of child trafficking.
  • In case of the trafficking of more than one child, the penalty is now life imprisonment.
  • Property bought via such income as well as used for trafficking can now be forfeited with provisions set in place, similar to that of the money laundering Act.
  • The National Investigation Agency (NIA) 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.

Significance:

  • The transgender community, and any other person, has been included which will automatically bring under its scope activity such as organ harvesting.
  • Also, cases such as forced labour, in which people lured with jobs end up in other countries where their passports and documentation is taken away and they are made to work, will also be covered by this new law.