Anti – Human Trafficking Laws In India

Updated: Feb 7


According to the definition of the United Nations – “trafficking is any activity leading to recruitment, transportation, harboring or receipts of persons, by means of threat or use of force or a position of vulnerability”. And after the completion of various surveys on the issue of human trafficking, India is considered as the hub of human trafficking in Asia. At least 3000,000 children across India are drugged, beaten, and forced to beg everyday as per experts said. According to the National Human Rights Commission, up to 40,000 children are abducted in the country every year, in which ten out of every fifty children rescued are victims of human trafficking.

Existing Anti – Human Trafficking Laws in India

In the case of Bachpan bachao andolan vs Union of India, Supreme Court of India reaffirmed that one of the main reasons for human trafficking in India is for commercial sexual exploitation of children and women. As per the Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act 1956, a prostitution becomes an offence when there is commercial exploitation of a person and comes under human trafficking. According to article 23(1) of Indian constitution, traffic in human beings and forced labour are punishable under law. Also, article 24 of Indian constitution prohibits employment of children below age of fourteen years in factories, mines or other hazardous places. Along with Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act, 1956, the Indian constitution and Indian Penal Code, 1860, have more than twenty provisions that make trafficking illegal. Parliament enacted the Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, 2013, concerned with rape and sexual assault which relates to human trafficking. Specially, the new section 370 of Indian Penal Code, 1860, defines the offence of trafficking thus replacing the prior section 370 of Indian Penal Code, 1860, which dealt with the buying or disposing of any person as a slave. Further, section 370A of Indian Penal Code, 1860, criminalizes anyone who engages a trafficked minor or adult for sexual exploitation.

Loopholes in the Existing Laws

The Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act, 1956, does not recognize human trafficking in persons as a specific or a separate crime. Trafficking under Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act, 1956, is addressed merely as a prostitution related activity. Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act, 1956, does not say anything about preventing human trafficking. Nothing is mentioned in the act about the cause of trafficking or preventive measures that must be taken to warn about the dangers of trafficking. Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act, 1956, ignores other forms of human trafficking, except prostitution.

Future Aims of Government of India on Anti – Human Trafficking Laws

The Ministry of Women & Child Development released the draft “Trafficking of Persons (Prevention, Protection and Rehabilitation) Bill, 2016” in New Delhi for further stake-holders consultations and comments. The Bill aims to create a strong legal, economic and social environment against trafficking of persons and related matters. The draft Bill has taken into account the various aspects of trafficking and its punishments as defined in section 370- 373 of Indian Penal Code, 1860 and aims to include other offences/ provisions which are not dealt with in any other law for the purpose of trafficking, such as (1) penal provisions for the disclosure of identity of the victim of trafficking and witness (2) use of narcotic drug or psychotropic substance or alcohol for the purpose of trafficking (3) use of chemical substance or hormones for the purpose of exploitation. The draft Bill has also taken into its ambit the ‘placement agencies’ by making mandatory for them to also register for the purposes of this Act.

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