HC orders Bengal govt to compensate trafficking victim, says right to relief notwithstanding result of criminal proceedings

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The compensation, to be given by the State Legal Services Authority (SLSA), is to be handed over within ten days of the order.

In a landmark judgment, the Calcutta High Court Monday ordered the state to pay compensation to a trafficking victim even as investigation is ongoing and trial is yet to begin. Justice Rajshekhar Mantha observed that the victim of a crime has the right to receive compensation notwithstanding the result of criminal proceedings.

The compensation, to be given by the State Legal Services Authority (SLSA), is to be handed over within ten days of the order.

The order was passed on a writ petition filed by the victim’s lawyer after their application for compensation was turned down by both the District Legal Services Authority (DLSA) and SLSA. The victim was 14 years old when she was trafficked (see box).

Criminal lawyer Kaushik Gupta, who is representing the victim, said, “When the case was filed in West Bengal, it was not filed under the Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act (ITPA), unlike in Pune…If it is a case of simple kidnapping, the case can be investigated by a sub-inspector. Under ITPA, the minimum rank required is that of inspector. Secondly, police stations and officers-in-charge don’t have the resources to investigate under ITPA, because for that you have to investigate the entire route — in this case from the district to Sealdah to Mumbai to Pune. The officer has to take a team with the victim’s family. Sometimes, it takes years for the cost of investigation to be reimbursed by the state. The probe is therefore limited to surrounding areas of the village from which the trafficking has taken place.

“Therefore, the investigation carried out is often inadequate, as is the chargesheet. For the lawyer to then prove the case becomes very difficult. More often than not, this results in acquittal of accused. This is a landmark order as it shifts the concept of justice from the sole purpose of convicting the criminal, to compensatory justice.’’

Justice Mantha’s order states: “The writ petitioner has been a victim of trafficking. She was identified, traced and brought back from Pune to West Bengal…The victim had filed an application under the West Bengal Victim Compensation Scheme of 2017. Such scheme came to be framed after the Criminal Procedure Code, 1973, was amended to bring in section 357A in 2009.’’

It further states: “According to this law, every state government in coordination with the central government shall prepare a scheme for providing funds for compensation to victim or dependents who have suffered loss or injury as a result of the crime and who require rehabilitation. Article 38 of the Constitution obligates the State to render social justice to its citizens.

Right to receive just compensation as a victim of a crime, notwithstanding the result of criminal proceedings emanating out of the incident of crime can be read into Article 21 of the Constitution of India guaranteeing ‘Right to life’. ‘Right to life’ encompasses within its fold, the ‘Right to live with dignity’. A citizen cannot be asked to forfeit the right to live with dignity just because such citizen has become a victim of a crime. The state is obliged to protect the life and property of its citizens. The victim may or may not receive compensation in the criminal proceedings. The criminal proceedings may result in acquittal of the accused. Disposal of such criminal proceedings with a particular result does not mean that, the incident of crime did not happen or that the victim is not entitled to or requires compensation.”

The order also states: “Acquittal of the accused, ipso facto, does not mean that the incident of crime did not take place. The victim of the crime may require support, monetary and otherwise to mitigate the loss and injury suffered as a result of the crime. The victim may require rehabilitation.”

Justice Mantha observed that the victim must be compensated under section 357A as her fundamental rights under Article 21 (Right to life) have been violated. “Denial of compensation to such victim would continue such violation and perpetrate gross inhumanity on the victim…This cannot be the object of section 357A and the 2017 scheme…I therefore hold that both requirements the accused not being identified or traced as also that the trial should not have commenced, need not be satisfied for entitlement of compensation…,” stated the order.

The Calcutta High Court also directed that the CID take on the investigation.

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Gurgaon victims among those trafficked after Nepal Earthquake?

Spurt in human trafficking from Nepal after April devastation, say Indian agencies

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By Devesh Pandey/ Published in The Hindu

Two Nepalese women sexually exploited allegedly by a Saudi Arabian diplomat in Gurgaon are victims of a well-developed human trafficking network operating from Nepal.

The number of women and children falling prey to the network has increased after April’s earthquake in the Himalayan nation.

Sources in Indian agencies say the two women are “luckier” than hundreds of other victims of highly organised networks operating from Nepal.

Though the exact numbers on forced migration of Nepalese nationals are not available, latest data with the Sashastra Seema Bal that guards the 1,751-km border with Nepal show a five-fold increase in trafficking post-earthquake.

Till April 24, the SSB registered eight cases involving 47 victims and 12 traffickers. As was feared by experts, the SSB began recording a significant increase in number of cases after the disaster struck.

Sources said 38 more cases had been recorded and 126 victims rescued with the arrest of 51 agents from Nepal, West Bengal, Bihar and Uttar Pradesh.

Officials said immediately after the earthquake SSB’s Interaction Team and the 4,500-strong civil (intelligence) wing were activated to take preventive measures at 470 border outposts.

One of the first major human trafficking rackets unearthed after earthquake was by the Delhi Police had unearthed a major human trafficking racket with the rescue of 30 Nepalese girls at Delhi’s IGI airport in July.

“Governments of the bordering states of Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and West Bengal have issued instructions to all the districts to check human trafficking along the border. In fact, the UP government has also got closed-circuit television cameras installed in the border districts for effective surveillance,” said Ravi Kant of non-government organisation Shakti Vahini.

There has been a gradual increase in the trafficking of Nepalese girls for commercial sexual exploitation in the past few years, officials in SSB and activists say.

A recent Central Bureau of Investigation study of the data available with Bureau of Immigration, Foreign Regional Registration Office, airline firms and major travel agents, indicated that up to 8,000 Nepalese girls had been trafficked to Dubai via Delhi airport to be pushed into prostitution in recent years.

The most common pretext employed was a projected tour to Nairobi via Dubai. But then the victims would be de-planed in Dubai, their tickets to Nairobi and hotel bookings cancelled.

Officials point out that the Nepalese government order barring women below 30 years of age from boarding a flight at Tribhuvan International Airport (Kathmandu) to major trafficking destinations if not accompanied by a family member, has only contributed to the trafficking syndicates using Delhi and other Indian cities for taking out their victims.

Traffickers have devises land routes, opening up several gateways along the Indo-Nepal border in Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and West Bengal, most active entry points being Sunauli (UP) and Siliguri (West Bengal). “All the routes close to railway stations with links to major transits like Delhi are in use,” said an SSB officer. As per an estimate, there are about 100 unofficial border entry points with Nepal.

Expressing concern over the sudden increase in trafficking cases, Archana Tamang, international consultant at Human Rights and Equality in Kathmandu, told The Hindu: “The Nepal government will soon launch a survey to gather details of post-quake victims of trafficking. Good news is that on the Indian side, NGOs and police agencies have been taking effective measures. There is a need to check shady recruitment agencies involved in the racket.”

However, Mr. Kant pointed out, in many cases it becomes difficult for Indian agencies to take action in cases where Nepalese women are found travelling on genuine papers.

“In 2012, the CBI had in coordination with Shakti Vahini intercepted 70 Nepalese nationals. However, they had to be let off as they were carrying valid papers….all of them get lured by a better job prospect,” he said, adding that there is also a need for effective implementation of law by the Protector General of Emigrants to put a check on illegal activities of Indian recruitment agencies.

Another big arrest in Tripura trafficking racket

PUBLISHED IN THE TIMES OF INDIA

Agartala: Police arrested a third accused in running a human trafficking racket in the border villages of Tripura based on information from two other accused who were arrested last week.

Delaware Hussein was arrested from Sobhapur village of Sonamura in West Tripura on Saturday.

The two other accused — Kurban Ali, a resident of Indiranagar area of Sonamura and Abdul Rashid Dar, a resident of Kashmir valley — were arrested last week along with 25 Myanmar nationals belong to the Rohingya community from Kurban’s house.

Sub-divisional magistrate of Sonamura Debolina Kilikdar has sent all three accused to five-days police remand.

Superintendent of police (Sepahijala) Pradip Pal said Delaware was arrested based on the information revealed by Ali and Dar while in police custody. They admitted that they had been running a trafficking racket along with a gang in West Bengal. According to police, the detained Myanmar nationals were trapped by the racket in Bangladesh. They were brought to India through the western border to be sold in northern India at a cost of Rs 1 lakh each.

“The women and girls were being sent to brothels while the men were made to join criminal gangs,” a police officer said quoting the confession of the accused persons. They have already sent many people to different parts of India.

The racket has administrative reach in Tripura by which they managed fake passports and sent people outside India. They also admitted that some more Myanmarese were sold through this racket in northern India and Kashmir, police said.

During investigation, police traced a joint account of Kurban Ali with Joel Shikdar, a resident of 24 Parganas of West Bengal in SBI. The account has a record of huge transactions in the past few months

Seven men, eight women and 10 children from Myanmar were sentenced three months jail for illegal entry into the Indian territory. Tripura police is also contacting the Myanmar embassy for their release.

Tripura has reported as many as 13 cases of fake passport rackets in the last one year. In all the cases, passports were processed from different district magistrate offices of Tripura with fake documents. But in none of the cases could police could identify the culprits in the administration.

नाबालिग को शादी का झांसा देकर ले जाने के आरोप में आठ गिरफ्तार

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PUBLISHED IN DAINIK JAGRAN

कोडरमा: एक ओर प्रधानमंत्री नरेंद्र मोदी हरियाणा के पानीपत में बेटी बचाओ, बेटी पढ़ाओ अभियान की शुरुआत कर रहे थे, दूसरी तरफ मानव तस्करी के उद्देश्य से कोडरमा सुदूरवर्ती ग्रामीण क्षेत्र की एक नाबालिग बेटी को शादी का झांसा देकर हरियाणा के एक अधेड़ उम्र के युवक ले जाने आया थे। पुलिस ने दूल्हा समेत इस मामले में लिप्त कुल आठ लोगों को गुरुवार को गिरफ्तार कर जेल भेज दिया।

गिरफ्तार लोगों में हरियाणा के गंगाचाप रेवाड़ी निवासी विजय पाल, करमपाल (दोनों पिता छोटू राम) विजय सिंह, पिता महाबीर सिंह, सुरेश कुमार, पिता तलवीर सिंह, रामानंद शर्मा, पिता ईश्वर लाल, मुनिया मसोमात पति स्व. सिराज डोमचांच, मो. महताब व मो. अमजद अली (दोनों पिता जलालुद्दीन तारानाखो राजधनवार, गिरिडीह) शामिल हैं। इसे लेकर आरोपियों के विरुद्ध डोमचांच थाना में मानव व्यापार अधिनियम के तहत मामला दर्ज किया गया है। पुलिस के अनुसार डोमचांच थाना अंतर्गत पंचगांवा की रहनेवाली एक गरीब परिवार की नाबालिग लड़की से शादी करने के नाम पर उसे ले जाने की तैयारी चल रही थी। इसी दौरान ग्रामीणों ने पुलिस को सूचना दी। डोमचांच पुलिस ने तत्परता दिखाते हुए मौके पर पहुंच कर सभी आरोपियों को गिरफ्तार कर लिया। आरोपियों ने बताया कि वे लोग पांच दिन पूर्व यहां शादी करने के लिए आए थे।

सातवीं की है छात्रा

कोडरमा: जिस लड़की से शादी कर ले जाने आए थे वह लड़की सातवीं कक्षा की छात्रा है। लड़की ने बताया कि वह अभी पढ़ना चाहती है। लड़की की मां ने बताया कि बगल की एक महिला ने आकर कहा कि बेटी की शादी करोगी । गरीबी एवं लड़की के पिता की मानसिक स्थिति ठीक नहीं होने के कारण हमने हां कर दी। उन्होंने कहा कि इससे पूर्व भी डोमचांच क्षेत्र से तीन-चार लड़कियों को हरियाणा शादी के नाम पर ले जाया गया है।

मामले को महिला सीआईडी को भेजा जायेगा: एसपी

कोडरमा: कोडरमा एसपी संगीता कुमारी ने इस मामले को गंभीरता से लेते हुए कहा कि आरोपियों पर सख्त कार्रवाई की जाएगी। इस मामले को अपराध अनुसंधान शाखा के पास भेजा जायेगा। उन्होंने कहा कि उक्त लड़की की कस्तूरबा गांधी स्कूल में नामांकन कराकर आगे पढ़ने की व्यवस्था की जाएगी।

Why the NCW’s proposal to legalise prostitution in India is flawed

BY DR PRAVIN PATKAR – PUBLISHED IN THE DNA INDIA

National Commission for Women (NCW) Chairperson Lalita Kumarmangalam’s proposal to legalise prostitution and the comments thereon have a thing in common, inaccurate understanding of the problem and its solution. Her medicine is deadlier than the disease, especially when the civilised world is fighting human trafficking and sexual exploitation. Naïve supporters of the policy appear to be misled by the magical term ‘legal’ (like ‘development’). Tomorrow they may also support legalisation of rape believing that now onwards rapes will be legal and therefore proper.

A person above the age of 18 years, selling his/her body for sex against money or kind to another person of the opposite sex (the uncertainty on IPC Section-377 is temporarily over, with the Supreme court upholding it.) in his/her private premises (a privately-owned premise is not necessarily private), 200 meters away from a place of religious worship, a hospital, an educational institution or any place notified by the government (Sec-7) is not a crime under any Indian laws including The Indian Penal Code-1860 or The Immoral Traffic Prevention Act- 1956. The Indian law bans the acts of trafficking, procuring, detaining, pimping, lending a premise for carrying on prostitution for running a brothel. Soliciting in public places for prostitution is punishable (Sec-8) but a woman arrested under Sec-7 or Sec-8 is not to be punished but to be given a chance of rehabilitation at the state’s cost (Sec-10). In short, the Indian law aims to punish the exploiters like madams, pimps, traffickers, customers, and other partners aiding the exploitative sex trade but not the prostitute woman. By legalising the trade, would the state decriminalise the offences of trafficking, procuring and detaining girls and young women, brothel-keeping or pimping? If the offence of soliciting in public is scrapped from the lawbook, then there will be pimps and madams approaching young boys and girls right outside the gates of schools and colleges, luring them with money, expensive electronic gadgets or foreign tours to join the sex trade. Parents and teachers will helplessly witness this as they will be arrested for not allowing the pimp to carry out their legal business. Should this legal position be rejected?

If the government wishes to serve the victims of prostitution, what stops it from doing what the small civil society organisations have done best? Aren’t these women the citizens of this country? Haven’t the High Courts and the Supreme Court from time to time upheld the prostituted women’s constitutional legal and human rights? Does the NCW think that to assist a rape victim, the rape must first be licensed?

The origins of the women’s emancipation movement is aptly attributed to the struggle of Josephine Butler against the draconian British law ‘Dangerous Diseases Act 1865’ which was the main expression of legalisation. It caused public outcry in Britain and its colonies between 1865 and 1885 when it was finally repealed as it was seen as an anti-women instrument leading to excessive power abuse by the health officials and police. An indispensable component of legalisation is compulsory periodic medical testing (CPMT) justified to curb sexually transmitted infections. Clinically speaking, initial tests for a person with such an infection may turn out to be negative, if his infection is fresh. This is because of the window period. So a person holding a certificate of negativity could still spread the infection. The CPMT creates a false sense of security in the client who throws caution to the wind and indulges in unsafe sex. STIs/HIV infections actually increase under legalisation.

Under legalisation, would the state issue licenses to the children (currently > 40% of the victims), the HIV positive victims (> 50% of the victims), the illegal migrants and trafficked aliens, mostly the Bangladeshis? If not, where will they all go if not underground? If the government wants to rehabilitate them, then who has stopped the government from doing so right away? Everyone in the country except the daroga (the police) knows where to find these women. In countries that have legalised the sex trade, two layers of prostitution have emerged – a very thin slice of registered legal activities and a huge chunk of illegal activities where women become more vulnerable and suffer extreme exploitation as they are forced to go underground.

Men’s confidence in assaulting any woman goes up when they experience that buying the sexuality of some women is legally supported and risk-free. All they need to do is create vulnerabilities and keep the money ready. If in spite of the law, millions are getting trafficked and over 40 million are currently living the life of sex slaves, why would the crime go down with liberalisation of the law? It is like saying no one will fail if the exams are scrapped.

As legalisation will mean keeping many registers, filing returns, paying taxes and greasing 10 more palms, the sex traders have rejected legalisation. Only the pharmaceuticals and government health babus still demand legalisation, even after knowing its futility.

Dr. Pravin Patkar is co-founder director at Prerana and adjunct professor at Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham. 

Child trafficking: Delhi cops not cooperating in raids

1888877_10152716836809123_6359657859865378037_oPUBLISHED IN THE TIMES OF INDIA

RAIPUR: Chhattisgarh police team, which is in New Delhi to crackdown on trafficking racket, has accused Delhi police of not cooperating with further investigation to find the main accused involved in trafficking of children.

State police, in a series of raids, had busted a racket on Wednesday arresting four accused and rescued ten children including girls in Delhi. According to police officials, Delhi police barred Chhattisgarh police team when it wanted to raid the house of Guddu- the kingpin of trafficking, who is at large.

“Guddu’s house is located in Delhi’s Subhash Nagar police jurisdiction. But when the SHO Ram Mehar was contacted for cooperation in raiding the house, he denied saying that police from other state couldn’t do such investigation and in case they violated rules, he would take action against them,” an official on condition of anonymity said.

The official added that the team was asked to take permission from sub-divisional magistrate for conducting raids. In its investigation, TOI found that police teams from Jharkhand, West Bengal and Assam were trying to reach Subhash Nagar in search of Guddu who was the main accused for trafficking of over 10,000 children. But Subhash Nagar police weren’t co-operating.

According to Ravi Kant, a supreme court lawyer, “Any investigating officer asking support from inter state police at their jurisdiction cannot be denied assistance. Any resistance should be strictly taken into consideration by ministry of home affairs.”

Human trafficking victims in India need greater legal support

Brick workersPUBLISHED BY THOMSON REUTERS FOUNDATION

LONDON, Nov 19 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – Trafficking victims in India need more legal support to pursue cases against their perpetrators, while the country’s police must understand that bonded and forced labour are also crimes, according to a report published on Wednesday.

The report by the Thomson Reuters Foundation and Freedom Fund said although illegal, trafficking is widespread across India while perpetrators go unpunished and many victims are unable to obtain justice and compensation.

India is home to more than 14 million victims of human trafficking, according to the 2014 Global Slavery Index, which found India had the greatest number of slaves of 167 countries.

Nick Grono, CEO of Freedom Fund, the world’s first private donor fund dedicated to ending modern slavery, said human trafficking was a massively profitable business that needed to be “dealt with as a criminal enterprise”.

Modern slavery is worth more than $150 billion a year in profits for human traffickers worldwide, according to the International Labour Organization.

“It means using the law effectively to challenge the economic model that supports slavery,” Grono told the Thomson Reuters Foundation at the TrustWomen conference.

“If you can find effective approaches which make a difference in India, then you can also make a huge impact on the overall scale of the problem globally.”

The report found that while hundreds of NGOs across India work on combating trafficking, only a few are able to pursue legal cases through to trial on behalf of victims.

This was due to funding restrictions, as money tends to be directed to non-legal victim assistance instead of legal work, longevity of cases, which can last for years, and the challenges of operating in an overstretched criminal justice system.

WHAT CONSTITUTES TRAFFICKING?

New anti-trafficking laws in India, ratified in May 2011, expanded the definition of trafficking and increased penalties, but confusion as to their interpretation and scope persists, the report said.

Several NGOs have said that while the new laws are being used for “traditional” trafficking offences, it is difficult to get police to register bonded labour cases or cases that do not involve movement of the victim.

“Historically, the Indian authorities have thought of trafficking only as sex trafficking, so it’s important to broaden the definition to include forced labour, bonded labour, and children being forced to work in mines,” Grono said.

The report also said that victims who press charges against perpetrators face harassment, violence and social stigma from their communities.

Citing the example of a 15-year-old Indian girl who was kidnapped, raped, and sold to a brothel, before escaping and filing a complaint with the help of an NGO, Grono said victims and officials “must realise the law is a powerful tool”.

“If you enforce and reinforce the law, and have cases that succeed and set precedents, then you can change the mindset across the country,” Grono said.

Among its recommendations, the report called for direct funding for NGOs to engage lawyers and pay for witness protection, expanded pro bono networks, and increased collaboration between anti-trafficking organisations.

(Reporting By Kieran Guilbert, editing by Alisa Tang.)