Differences between WCD and home ministries threaten to derail anti-trafficking law | india-news | Hindustan Times
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Differences between WCD and home ministries threaten to derail anti-trafficking law

There is now no single law dealing with human trafficking and the crime is covered under different acts administered by at least half-a-dozen ministries, including women and child development, home, labour, health, Indian overseas affairs and external affairs.

india Updated:
Moushumi Das Gupta
Union Women and Child Development Minister Maneka Gandhi.
Union Women and Child Development Minister Maneka Gandhi. (HT file photo)

Almost two years after it was proposed, the draft anti-trafficking law may get further delayed following serious differences between two Union ministries over its contours.

While the Union women and child development (WCD) ministry, which is anchoring the Trafficking of Persons (Prevention, Protection and Rehabilitation) bill, 2016, wants a separate law, the home ministry is against it.

There is now no single law dealing with human trafficking and the crime is covered under different acts administered by at least half-a-dozen ministries, including WCD, home, labour, health, Indian overseas affairs and external affairs.

At a meeting called at the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) last month, government officials said, home ministry suggested amending the Indian Penal Code to include more provisions related to trafficking instead of bringing in a new law.

“Home ministry officials said that bringing in another law is unnecessary,” said a senior official who attended the PMO meeting but did not want to be quoted.

“But the WCD ministry stood its ground that mere tinkering in the IPC won’t suffice. Even now IPC has provisions to check human trafficking but it has failed to curb the menace,” said the official. It was finally decided at the meeting to refer the draft bill to Vidhi Centre for Legal Policy, an independent legal think tank that does legal research for their opinion. “Once Vidhi gives its view, a final call will be taken on whether a new bill is required,” said the official.

The proposed law has stringent penal provisions to deter traffickers. At the same time it will ensure that a trafficked person who gets into prostitution is not treated as an offender. Currently, the law says the trafficked person and the trafficker are both criminals and they both go to jail.

The proposed law makes giving hormones and drugs to trafficked young girls to accelerate sexual maturity and force them into prostitution a crime, a punishable offence with 10 years in jail and a fine of Rs 1 lakh. The bill also proposes to make registration of placement agencies that recruit or supply domestic helps mandatory.