NEW DELHI: Conviction rate in human trafficking cases has been consistently declining over the past four years, according to official data. Experts say inadequate support for victims is the primary reason for this, as more and more of them are turning hostile which is leading to a high number of acquittals in such cases.
The Union Ministry of Home Affairs shared statistics on trafficking cases in Parliament this week. According to it, as many as seven states — Assam, Chhattisgarh, Kerala, Goa, Maharashtra, Odisha, Punjab — did not see a single conviction in such cases. All cases related to this in 2020 resulted in acquittals or discharges.
Conviction rate in Telangana and West Bengal stood abysmally low at 1.9%. In 2020, Tamil Nadu registered the best conviction rate at 66.7%, followed by Delhi at 40%, Madhya Pradesh 25%, Uttarakhand 20%, Jharkhand 19.2% and Andhra Pradesh 8.2%.
Shilpi, director of Bhoomika Vihar, an NGO in Bihar that works with brides who were trafficked, said the government has to come up with some sort of allowance for victims to ensure they attend court hearings regularly. “The victims come from very poor families and are generally daily wage labourers. Coming for case hearings means losing their day’s earnings which is a huge problem. The government should consider giving allowance to such victims to ensure the cases reach their logical ends.”
Noted criminal lawyer from West Bengal, Mit Guha Roy called for proper implementation of government schemes to ensure better conviction rates. A panel lawyer with Calcutta High Court Legal Services Committee, Guha Roy said delays in disbursement of compensation is a big issue.
“Victims get confidence to pursue cases if compensation is disbursed in 3-4 months. It usually takes longer, about a year. The Sakhi scheme, if implemented properly, can be of great assistance but that’s not the case.” Sakhi scheme, also known as One-Stop Centres, aims at facilitating women victims with a range of integrated services under one roof.