The anti-trafficking Bill, which proposes that NIA probe human trade, is likely to be tabled in Parliament next month, the Women and Child Development Ministry said. A group of ministers constituted to examine the Draft Trafficking of Persons (Prevention, Protection and Rehabilitation) Bill, 2017 met late last month and gave its nod to the proposed legislation. The group comprises ministries of external affairs, law and justice, housing and urban affairs and, women and child development. According to a statement from the women and child development ministry, the draft bill would be submitted to the Cabinet this week and following its approval, it is likely to be tabled in Parliament in the second part of the Budget session, slated to start on March 5. In November last year, PTI had reported that National Investigation Agency (NIA), the apex anti-terror body, could be empowered to investigate cases of human trafficking after a breakthrough in the nearly year-long consultations among various ministries. "The draft says that NIA will be the body which will probe cases of human trafficking," a senior official of the ministry of women and child development said. He said a cell within the NIA would receive financial aid under Nirbhaya Fund created for women's safety. Government officials say that in order to empower the NIA to probe trafficking cases the National Investigation Act, 2008, will have to be amended. The NIA was set up by the UPA government in 2009 to probe terrorist activities in the aftermath of the 2008 Mumbai attacks, which killed 166 people. According to the National Investigation Act, the anti- terror body is empowered to probe offences under eight specified laws, including the Atomic Energy Act 1962, the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act 1967, and the Anti- Hijacking Act 1982. The proposed legislation on trafficking divides various offences into "trafficking" and "aggravated trafficking".
The former category of crimes would carry a jail term of between seven and 10 years. For 'aggravated trafficking' offences the punishment would be not less than 10 years in jail, which can be extended to life imprisonment. These offences include forced labour, bonded labour, forced surrogacy, use of narcotics to induce forced labour, trafficking in the garb of marriage and those that lead to a grave illness such as HIV/AIDS or pregnancy. The draft bill also moots life imprisonment for repeat offenders and three years in jail for abetting, promoting and assisting trafficking. It recommends a national anti-trafficking relief and rehabilitation committee which would be headed by Secretary of Women and Child Development ministry. It also proposes setting up of a rehabilitation fund and prescribes a process to be followed for repatriation of trafficked persons.
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