NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court today asked the Centre to come out with an action plan to prevent trafficking of girls for sexual exploitation, their rescue and rehabilitation after holding discussions with all states.
It asked the Centre to discuss the report of the National Legal Services Authority (NALSA) on prevention, rescue and rehabilitation of the victims of trafficking for commercial and sexual exploitation at this meeting. The bench headed by Justice A R Dave gave the directions after hearing senior advocate Dushyant Dave, who sought urgent directions for the authorities saying that the problem is grave. "We need to do something urgently," he told the bench which also comprised Justices Madan B Lokur and Kurian Joseph.
Dave, representing NGO 'Prajwala' which had moved the court against the trafficking of girls and women for commercial sexual exploitation, also lauded the NALSA for its recommendations. The court noted that the Central Advisory Committee was scheduled to deliberate on NALSA's recommendations on September three and directed that the Chief Secretaries of all states and union territories must participate in it.
It also directed the Centre to place before it the minutes of the meeting and file an affidavit within three weeks after September 3 meeting elaborating the steps likely to be taken by it on each recommendation of NALSA which was lauded by all in the court. The NALSA, in its report filed with the apex court, has 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 organised crime investigation agency be set up to investigate the cases of human trafficking and organised crime. "The court may direct the setting up of a committee by the central government to work out the modalities of setting up such a specialised agency," it said. "This court may direct that till such time an organised crime investigation agency is set up, the Anti Human Trafficking Unit (AHTU), which works under the ministry of Home Affairs, may be declared as a 'thana' for facilitating registration and investigation of cases," it said.
Terming the women and children as "vulnerable to sexual exploitation", the NALSA has recommended among other things a direction by the Supreme Court to the legislature to define term "sexual exploitation". "...in the interregnum, this court may amplify the definition of sexual exploitation: sexual exploitation includes a situation where a person under coercion and absence of free will is used or abused or explicitly portrayed, either physically or through media in a sexual manner, for the
benefit of another person, either through monetary gains, or compensation, or favours, or any arrangements, causing unlawful gain as a result of such act to any person and includes brokering relationships that are coerced," it said.
The NALSA has said there was a strong linkage between "trafficking and missing persons". Referring to an apex court judgement, it said, "whenever a child goes missing, it should be presumed to be a case of kidnapping or trafficking." It has 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.
"This court may issue directions to the government to set up the nodal agency at the national level and state agencies at the state level with the roles as specified in the report," the NALSA has said, adding that district task force should also be set up, to be headed by collector, to deal with the menace of trafficking. "This court may also issue directions to all implementing agencies of government schemes to coordinate with the district task force and legal services authority for effective inclusion of vulnerable population and trafficked victims to the benefits of the schemes," it said.
"This court may be pleased to appoint a grievance redressal body/ombudsman to ensure the implementation of the suggestions and recommendations and to address failure in the delivery of service and recommend penal consequences after fixing responsibility," it said. The NALSA has also recommended creation of "comprehensive source of data on missing and trafficked persons". Referring to the directions passed by the Delhi High Court in the case relating to exploitation by placement agencies, NALSA has said they can be included by the apex court in its order to curb child trafficking.
"This court may be pleased to issue directions to the central government for making budgetary provisions for prevention of trafficking, rescue, protection, rehabilitation, repatriation and integration of trafficked victims and to further direct that this fund should be placed with the nodal agencies for distribution to the state agencies, the organised crime investigation agencies (when set up) and the district task force through the state agencies," it said.
The NALSA has suggested that on the basis of its recommendations, pilot projects in five-six districts can be initiated to test the effectiveness of the suggestions. 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. Senior advocate Dushyant Dave had earlier said that unless the bench issues contempt notice, nothing will move.
The court had then expressed annoyance over the Centre moving at a slow pace in coordinating with state governments on curbing child trafficking and prostitution. The court had asked the government to respond to the suggestions of 'Prajwala' seeking creation of "Victim Protection Protocol" for rescued survivors of commercial sexual exploitation who were victims of serious forms of sexual slavery.
The NGO had said there was a need to have a multi-disciplinary, national anti-trafficking Board on the lines of Narcotics Control Board, which would coordinate with all agencies engaged in prevention, rescue, rehabilitation and re-integration in addition to prosecution.
It had also proposed measures for pre-rescue, rescue and post-rescue stages of rehabilitation of commercially and sexually-exploited women and children. The court had in 1990 asked all states to form advisory committees to make suggestions for eradicating prostitution.