The Lok Sabha on July 26, 2018 passed the Trafficking of Persons (Prevention, Protection and Rehabilitation) Bill 2018. The Bill provides for the prevention, rescue and rehabilitation of trafficked persons and seeks to establish a National Anti-Trafficking Bureau to investigate trafficking cases.
The Bill was introduced in Lok Sabha by the Union Minister of Women and Child Development, Maneka Gandhi on July 18, 2018.
Establishment of National Anti-Trafficking Bureau
Functions of the National Anti-Trafficking Bureau
State Anti-Trafficking Officers
Under the Bill, the state government will appoint a State Nodal Officer who will be responsible for follow up action under the Bill as per the instructions of the State Anti-Trafficking Committee and for providing relief and rehabilitation services.
The state government will also appoint a Police Nodal Officer at the state and district levels. Moreover, the Anti-Trafficking Police Officers will be designated for each district to deal with all matters related to trafficking in the district.
The Bill also provides for the setting up of Anti-Trafficking Units (ATUs) at the district level. ATUs will deal with the prevention, rescue, and protection of victims and witnesses and for the investigation and prosecution of trafficking offences.
In districts where an ATU is not functional, this responsibility will be taken up by the local police station.
Anti-Trafficking Relief and Rehabilitation Committee
The Bill provides for the establishment of Anti-Trafficking Relief and Rehabilitation Committees (ATCs) at the national, state, and district levels.
These Committees will be responsible for:
• Providing compensation to victims
• Repatriation of victims
• Re-integration of victims in society
Search and rescue
As per the provisions of the Bill, an Anti-Trafficking Police Officer or an ATU can rescue persons, if there is an imminent danger to them. They will be produced before a Magistrate or Child Welfare Committee for medical examination.
Protection and rehabilitation
The Bill requires the central or state government to set up Protection Homes to provide shelter, food, counselling and medical services to victims. The central or state government will maintain Rehabilitation Homes in each district to provide long-term rehabilitation to the victims.
Rehabilitation of victims will not be dependent on criminal proceedings being initiated against the accused or the outcome of the proceedings. The central government will also create a Rehabilitation Fund to set up these Protection and Rehabilitation Homes.
The Bill provides for setting up designated courts in each district to complete the trial within a year.
The Bill specifies the penalties for offences including trafficking of persons, promoting trafficking, disclosing the identity of the victim and aggravated trafficking such as trafficking for bonded labour.
The aggravated trafficking will be punishable with rigorous imprisonment of 10 years up to life imprisonment, along with a minimum fine of one lakh rupees. The publishing of any material which may lead to the trafficking of a person will be punishable with imprisonment between five and 10 years, and a fine between Rs 50000 and one lakh rupees.
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