The Centre on Tuesday told the Supreme Court that instead of amending certain provisions in existing statutes, there was a need for a “comprehensive legislation” to tackle all aspects of human trafficking.
The ministry of women and child development, which along with National Legal Services Authority, was hailed by the court for their efforts to deal with the issue of prevention of trafficking of girls for sexual exploitation, their rescue and rehabilitation, told the bench headed by justice A R Dave that there was a need to have a separate law.
“…During the course of further discussions, some members mentioned that the amendment proposed to the Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act and the Protection of Children Against Sexual Offences (POCSO) is confined to defining sexual exploitation only.
“This does not appear to be sufficient as other forms of exploitation may also be covered under the Acts administered by other Ministries such as Home Affairs, Labour and Employment, Indian overseas affairs, health and external affairs.
“Thereupon, it was unanimously felt that a comprehensive legislation to tackle all aspects of trafficking should be considered …,” the Centre said in its affidavit filed before the bench that also comprised Justices M B Lokur and Kurian Joseph.
Referring to a recent Central Advisory Committee (CAC) meeting of states and UTs, it also said a decision to notify Standard operating Procedure (SOP) to deal with trafficking has been taken.
The CAC, which will now meet once in a three months, also decided that “MHA will issue guidelines on safe repatriation of victims of trafficking”.
The affidavit, filed in pursuance of court’s order in a PIL on the issue of girls’ trafficking, also said the ministry of women and child development (MWCD)will set up a standing committee, having representatives of ministries of home affairs, labour and employment, Indian overseas affairs, health and external affairs, NALS and some NGOs to deal with the issue.
“The standing committee will prepare a plan of action covering amendments to Laws/ITPA, standardisation of SOPs, mechanism to control trafficking and other issues discussed. To begin with, the standing committee will meet once in a month …,” it said.
The ministry of women and child development also told the bench that the CAC and the standing committee have dicussed in detail the report of NALSA on the issue of girls trafficking.
NALSA, in its report filed with the apex court, had suggested roles of various stakeholders in the prevention, rescue and rehabilitation of victims of trafficking for commercial and sexual exploitation.
The report has sought a direction to the Centre that an organized crime investigation agency be set up to investigate the cases of human trafficking and organised crime.
Terming the women and children as “vulnerable to sexual exploitation”, the NALSA had recommended among other things a direction by the Supreme Court to the legislature to define term “sexual exploitation”.
The NALSA had said there was a strong linkage between “trafficking and missing persons”.
It had also suggested that the standard operating procedure, as devised to handle cases of missing children, can be “suitably adopted” in cases of trafficking of girl child.
The NALSA had also recommended creation of “comprehensive source of data on missing and trafficked persons”.
Earlier, the court had asked the NALSA to file its report on measures which can be adopted to curb child trafficking and prostitution and ensure the rehabilitation of victims.