NEW DELHI: The Delhi Commission for Protection of Child Rights (DCPCR) on Wednesday wrote to the Ministry of Women and Child Development saying the new Trafficking in Persons (Prevention, Care and Rehabilitation) Bill, 2021, not only lacked gender neutrality but was also violative of the Juvenile Justice (Care and protection) Act.
The Central government had on June 30 published the Trafficking Prevention Bill and issued a public notice inviting comments and suggestions. DCPCR chairman Anurag Kundu wrote to the ministry in this regard.
"The proposed Bill erodes key provisions of the Juvenile Justice (Care and protection) Act, 2015, particularly with respect to rehabilitation of children in need of protection. It erodes the power of Child Welfare Committees which comprises professionals in the field," said the letter containing DCPCR's recommendations on the proposed trafficking prevention law.
As per the child rights panel, the Bill places the 'burden of proof' on the accused, which violates the Constitution that says the burden of proof lies on the prosecuting agency.
The legislation proposes to punish the owner of a premise used for trafficking assuming the person is aware of the illegal activities. "If the owner is aware, he should be punished severely. However, the burden is placed on him to prove that he did not have any knowledge. This is a dangerous precedent," said Kundu in his letter.
The letter further said that the Bill talks about a National Human Anti-Trafficking Committee, under which the existing child rights statuary bodies like DCPCR have not been included. "Since children are vulnerable to trafficking, it is crucial that state and national child rights statuary bodies are included in the Bill," the child rights watchdog suggested.
Make the law gender neutral, panel says
According to the DCPCR the Bill should be gender neutral. Throughout the draft Bill, the victim has been defined as 'him'. "There is s stringent need for the law to be gender neutral," said the DCPCR.