Indian Penal Code which came into existence in 1860 addresses the problem of human trafficking in human beings. It is addressed in Section 370 and 370 A of the Indian Penal Code. It prohibited trafficking of women and girls and prescribed ruthless punishments for the criminals. It lays down that anyone who buys or sells the person under the age of 18 years for the purpose of prostitution and for sexual exploitation and for other immoral purposes shall be liable to imprisonment for up to 10 years and also be liable to fine. It also recognizes cross border trafficking into prostitution and whoever imports into India from any country outside India any girl under the age be, or knowing it to be likely that she will be, forced or seduced to illicit intercourse with another person shall be punishable with imprisonment which may extend to ten years and shall also be liable to fine.

Constitution of India: The Indian Constitution of India prohibits trafficking in persons and guarantees many of the internationally acknowledged various human rights norms such as the right to life and personal liberty, the right to equality, right to freedom, the right to constitutional remedies. The right to be free from exploitation is also assured as fundamental right under Article: 23(1) Traffic in human beings and begar and other similar forms of forced labour are prohibited and any contravention of this provision shall be an offence punishable in accordance with law.

The Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2000 According to this Act there is no difference between a minor and a child. All the persons under the age of eighteen years are considered children. A child who is a child in need of care and protection.

The Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989 many victims of trafficking belong to marginalized groups. Traffickers target only such area which is backward in social and literacy sense. This gives an additional tool to safeguard women and young girls belonging to scheduled Caste and scheduled Tribes and also to create a greater burden on the trafficker or offender to prove his lack of connivance in the matter. If the offender has the knowledge that victim belongs to these communities then this act can be effectively used to counter the offence of trafficking. Section 3 of this act deals with atrocities committed against people belonging to Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribes. It covers some forms of trafficking such as forced or bonded labors and sexual exploitation of women. A minimum punishment of ix months is provided which may extend to five years if the offence is covered under section 3.

Immoral Traffic Prevention Act 1986 : The government of India ratified the International Convention for the Suppression of Immoral Traffic in persons and the exploitation of the Prostitution of others in 1950.India passed the Suppression of Immoral Traffic in Women and Girls Act (SITA) in the year 1956. In the year 1986 the act was further amended and changed which was known as the Immoral Traffic Prevention Act, 1986 (PITA). This is an interesting law because according to its preamble the purpose of this Act is to give effect to the Trafficking Convention and to prohibit the immoral human trafficking. The offences included are taking persons for prostitution, detaining persons in premises where prostitution is carried on, seducing or soliciting for prostitution, making life on the earnings of prostitution, seduction of a person in custody, keeping a brothel or allowing premises to be used as a brothel, prohibits employment of children in certain conditions of work of children. The Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Amendment Bill, 2006 also focuses on trafficking which is done for the purpose for sexual exploitation. So there is no proper domestic legislation in India which combats all forms of human trafficking.

Trafficking of Persons (Prevention, Protection and Rehabilitation) Bill, 2018.Bill is passed by the Lok Sabha (House of People) and awaits clearance from Rajya Sabha(Council of States)The Bill lays down a stringent punishment of 10 years to life imprisonment for aggravated forms of trafficking, which include buying or selling of persons for the purpose of bonded labour, bearing a child, as well as those where chemical substances or hormones are administered, and a survivor acquires life-threatening illnesses such as AIDS. The Bill proposes establishing a National Anti-Trafficking Bureau (NATB) for coordinating, monitoring and surveillance of trafficking cases. It also provides for a Relief and Rehabilitation Committee and Rehabilitation Fund with an initial allocation of ₹ 10 crore. It prescribes forfeiture of property used or likely to be used for the commission of an offence.


As far as the legal framework and perspective on the issue of Human-trafficking is concerned, several International and National Conventions, laws and protocols have been adopted by the international and state agencies and departments. The international interventions include: International agreement for suppression of white slave traffic (1904 and 1910), International convention for the suppression of the traffic of the women and children (1921), Slavery Convention (1926), ILO Forced Labour Convention (1930), International Convention for suppression of traffic in women of full age, Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948), Convention for the suppression of the traffic in persons and of exploitation of the Prostitution of others (1949), UN convention against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (1984), Tourism Bill of Rights and the Tourist Code (1985), Convention on Protection of Rights of Migrant Workers (1990).

The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime is a United Nations office that was established in 1997 as the Office for Drug Control and Crime Prevention by combining the United Nations International Drug Control Program and the Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice Division in the United Nations Office at Vienna. Optional Protocol to the Convention on the elimination of all forms of discrimination against Women (1999), UN protocol to Prevent, Suppress, and Punish Trafficking in Persons, especially Women and Children, 2000.

Human trafficking is a prominent concern in countries where the rule of law is weak. It has been nearly two decades since the enactment of the Palermo Protocol and various anti-trafficking legislations, but the crime still remains. Target 16.3 calls to “Promote the rule of law at the national and international levels and ensure equal access to justice for all.” Hopefully more traffickers and organized crime groups will be prosecuted as countries work to meet this target

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