Friday, May 30, 2014
No law to curb human trafficking
It may sound strange but it’s true. There is no law against human trafficking in India. Human traffickers are now booked either under the Immoral Traffic Prevention Act or the Passport Act. With the number of such cases going up in Kerala recently, lawyers point to the need to enact a separate law to curb such a crime.
In fact, there is not even a clear definition for trafficking under the current laws. While the Immoral Traffic Prevention Act refers to trafficking for prostitution, it does not provide comprehensive protection for children too.
As per this act if a person is found with a child it is assumed that he has detained that child for immoral reasons and can be punished from seven years in prison to life imprisonment, or sentenced to a term which may extend to ten years.
All this plus a maximum fine of one lakh rupees. Another section incorporated against the accused is Section 366 (kidnapping) but the act is inadequate as it is often used to book sexual offenders.
Adv Raja Vijayaraghavan, practicing at the High Court, points out that the accused involved in child trafficking cannot be booked under this Act and even if one is booked, the accused can escape from law as the provisions are inadequate.
“The situation is grave. To curb the increase in the number of human trafficking cases a foolproof law should be brought in,” he said. Cops as well as courts are finding it hard to deal with such cases owing to the loopholes in the law.
Under the Passport Act, while the victims get caught in foreign or domestic airports, the real masterminds behind the crime, escape. The High Court has recently expressed concern over this point recently while dealing with a case involving the trafficking of a toddler.
Director General of Prosecution T Asaf Ali echoed this view. It was high time the legal fraternity discussed these issues rather than just talking politics, he added.
In the Nedumbassery human trafficking case, the victim from Kazhakoottam in Thiruvananthapuram had initially voluntarily left for the Gulf, supported by the racket, for a job. She was later inducted into the sex trade before she fled back to Kerala and confessed to the police.
Among the several cases registered by the police, one was against the victim, for illegally migrating without valid documents. The persons involved in the racket were not arraigned as there was no law to prosecute them. The passport forgery case was made solely against the victim.
However, Alex K. John, the superintendent of crime branch police, who investigated the Nedumbassery human trafficking case before handing it over to the Central Bureau of Investigation, is of the opinion that the term ‘human trafficking’ was developed just for media sensationalism and the issue has to be dealt with from other perspectives too.
“A person trying to illegally migrate from a country with the support of rackets can still be charged for forgery of passports and travel documents. Though there is no exact law for human trafficking, a person who tried to migrate illegally can still be charged. As Justice V.R. Krishna Iyer says, it is high time we moved from the ‘court of law’ to ‘court of justice’,” the cop said.
The officer is also of the opinion that the cops would abide by the law, and file cases and it was up to the judiciary to introduce new laws.