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PTI | New Delhi | Published:July 3, 2016
According to Rajeev Chandrashekhar, “ITPA has stricter penalties than the current draft bill. (Source: File Photo)(Image: From Rajeev Chandrasekhar’s website.)
As Women and Child Development Ministry’s consultative process on its draft Trafficking of Persons Bill concluded on June 30, several NGOs have dubbed the proposed legislation as “vague and full of loopholes” and sought “better, wider, deeper consultation” on it.
The National Coalition to Protect Our Children (NCPOC), an umbrella organisation comprising several NGOs working in the field, has while offering its comments on the draft bill emphasised on the need for more discussion. They have slammed the draft bill for being “vague and full of loopholes”.
The letter written by Rajya Sabha MP Rajeev Chandrashekhar, who is also a member of NCPOC, says, “The bill suffers from several legislative and procedural flaws.” Several other NGOs who have separately written to the Ministry, too, echo the same sentiment.
Nearly all NGOs have questioned how a draft meant to become a legislation on trafficking does not even define the term “trafficking”.
Founder Secretary of Prayas, an NGO for Child Rights, Amod Kanth says, “Commercial sex, forced labour, organ trade, illegal adoption, forced child labour- all of these should have been brought directly under the definition of trafficking but a basic definition is missing.”
According to several activists who have written to the Ministry, the draft creates confusion about the existing law on trafficking–Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act (ITPA).
“One does not know whether the Bill is in addition to ITPA or a replacement of ITPA. If (it is )a replacement of ITPA, the provisions of ITPA must find a place in the Bill,” reads the submission to the Ministry made by HAQ: Centre for Child Rights.
According to Rajeev Chandrashekhar, “ITPA has stricter penalties than the current draft bill. So, does it mean we are now going to let off offenders lightly? What message does this bill then send to traffickers?”
Many contend how another law, Juvenile Justice Act, 2015, has stronger provisions for rehabilitation of trafficked children than the new draft bill and therefore there is a need for cross-references to be made to the JJ Act. However, the chapters on rehabilitation in the draft do not mention JJ Act at all.
“The mechanisms within JJ Act are very good. It has a powerful infrastructure, which comprises four different kinds of homes, which can be used for victims of human trafficking. It has Child Welfare Committee, Juvenile Justice Board, Child Protection Unit and Special Junvenile Police Unit.
“Any child who is rescued requires these mechanisms and they should all be extended to the trafficking bill,” says Kanth.