The Trafficking of Persons (Prevention, Protection and Rehabilitation) Act, 2018

The Lok Sabha on 26.07.18 passed a Bill aimed at preventing trafficking of persons, especially women and children and to provide care, protection and rehabilitation to the victims of trafficking, to prosecute offenders and to create a legal, economic and social environment for the victims.

  • The Bill defines child under Section 3(e) as a person who has not completed the age of eighteen years; “trafficking of person” shall have the meaning assigned to it in sub-section (1) of section 370 of the Indian Penal Code and victim to mean means any person on whom an offence of trafficking has been committed or attempted by any other person or persons.
  • The Bill seeks to establish a Bureau to be called the National Anti-Trafficking Bureau for exercising the powers and discharging its functions under this Act, comprising of police officers and other officers of such appropriate ranks, as may be necessary, for the discharge of its functions.
  • The Bureau shall be responsible for discharging various functions such as ensuring co-ordination and monitoring surveillance, strengthening the intelligence apparatus, increasing international co-operation with various concerned authorities.
  • Also it would be responsible for monitoring measures for combating, preventing and formulating co-ordinated strategy of action by various law enforcement agencies and making sustained efforts for capacity building and training of agencies.
  • The Bill also aims at appointing a State Nodal Officer, not below the rank of Director in the State Government, who shall be responsible for following up action under this Act, as per the directions of the State Anti-Trafficking Committee and co-ordinate with other Government agencies and civil society organisations.
  • The State Government shall designate for each District such number of Anti-Trafficking Police Officers for matters related to trafficking of persons, including prevention of trafficking, rescue and protection of the victims, investigation and prosecution.
  • Also the Appropriate Government would be required to set up for each District or a group of Districts, such number of Anti-Trafficking Units, for dealing with all matters of prevention, rescue, protection and care of victims and witnesses and of investigation and prosecution of any offence under this Act.
  • The Bill also aims at establishing a National Anti-Trafficking Relief and Rehabilitation Committee, for providing relief and rehabilitation services to the victims. It shall be chaired by the Secretary, Ministry of Women and Child Development and would comprise of members from various ministries.
  • The National Anti-Trafficking Relief and Rehabilitation Committee shall be responsible for various functions like facilitating and ensuring rehabilitation and relief services including compensation, repatriation, re-integration to the victims through concerned Ministries, providing for Protection Homes and Rehabilitation Homes to enable the immediate and long-term sustainable rehabilitation of victims; ensuring  the effective co-ordination between the concerned authorities both within the country as well as with other countries for the repatriation of victims; seeking reports from appropriate Government, State Anti-Trafficking Committee, District Anti-Trafficking Committee, on the quality of services and the functioning of the Protection Homes and Rehabilitation Homes.
  • There shall also be a State Anti-Trafficking Committee and a District Anti-Trafficking Committee in place.
  • The District Anti-Trafficking Committee shall have the final authority to dispose of cases for the care, protection, treatment, development and rehabilitation of the victims under this Act and in case of child victim, the provisions of the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015 shall apply.
  • Regarding ‘Search & Seizure’, the provisions of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 shall mutatis mutandis apply to of an offence under this Act.
  • Section 20 of the Bill talks about the ‘Preventive measures to be taken by the State and District Anti-Trafficking Committees, requiring them to undertake all measures and recommend strategies and plans to protect and prevent vulnerable persons from being trafficked.
  • The Bill also seeks at establishing Protection Homes & Rehabilitation Centers, as may be prescribed for the immediate care and protection of the victims or any person rescued. The Protection Homes shall provide for shelter, food, clothing, counseling and medical care that is necessary for the victims or any person rescued and other such services.
  • The Bill also deals in brief with the provision of ‘Repatriation of Victims’, making the District Anti-Trafficking Committee or the Child Welfare Committee, as the case may be, to be responsible for the repatriation of victims by co-ordinating with their counterparts in any other District.
  • A ‘Rehabilitation Fund’ to be set up according to the Bill for the welfare and rehabilitation of the victims under the Act. It would be utilized for various activities such as the establishment and administration of Protection Homes and Rehabilitation Homes; supporting innovative programmes for the welfare and rehabilitation of the victims; strengthening legal assistance and support; providing entrepreneurial support, skill development training or vocational training; providing aftercare facilities for capital and infrastructure to the victims who are ready to integrate into mainstream society by setting up small business or profession and providing victim and witness protection etc.
  • The Bill also lays down provisions for Punishment for ‘Aggravated form of trafficking of persons’ & for ‘Trafficking of persons on more than one occasion’ and also lays down punishment for ‘Punishment for keeping or allowing premises to be used as a place for trafficking of persons’.
  • Section 52 of the Act clearly lays down that all offences under this Act shall be cognizable and non-bailable.

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