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TRAFFICKING IN INDIA

Once the victim is rehabilitated, it is not in her interest to recall her to the court of law for any purpose including evidence, as she is compelled to relive the trauma and indignity. Therefore, it would be better to take into consideration the statement given by her before repatriation and act accordingly. If, however, her recall is necessitated, it should be done in such a way that it causes  least harm to her. Dislocating her from the rehabilitated ambience usually causes serious problems. Therefore, if her statement is to be recorded, or evidence taken, it should be done in commission  or through video conferencing at an appropriate place which would create least disturbance and discomfort to the person concerned. The Supreme Court has held in State of Maharashtra vs Praful Desai (2003 4 SCC 601) that the recording of evidence by way of video conferencing might be done in cases where the attendance of the witness cannot be ensured without delay, expense and inconvenience. It was also held by the apex court that recording of evidence by video conferencing was a ‘procedure established by law’ under Article 21 of the Constitution and did not violate the rights of the accused. The court observed that although the rights of the accused must be safeguarded, they should not be overemphasised to the extent of forgetting that the victim also has rights. Therefore, the ITPA should make it mandatory to provide video conferencing facility at the place where the victim would find it comfortable. The victim’s best interests should be the deciding factor in choosing the place and time of video recording/conferencing.

Another order by the High Court of Delhi has made notable improvement in the field of criminal jurisprudence and victim protection in India. On 27 February 2004, the High Court delivered this order, in Crl. M.1467/04 in Crl. W. 532/1992, in a petition filed by an NGO Prajwala of Hyderabad through its advocate Ms. Aparna Bhat. Thanks to the intervention of the Delhi High Court, girls rescued from the brothels in Delhi were repatriated and rehabilitated in their hometowns in several parts of India including Andhra Pradesh. The rehabilitation work was carried out by the Government of Andhra Pradesh with the involvement and participation of the NGO, Prajwala. Many of these girls who had been rehabilitated to districts like Nellore, were summoned by the trial court in Delhi for providing evidence against the exploiters. Since these girls were repatriated after spending considerable time in the rescue home in Delhi, ideally speaking, their statements should have been recorded by the trial court during that period. However, due to the delays in the trial, this was not done and, therefore, these girls were called to Delhi. The government agencies in Andhra Pradesh tried their best to get in touch with these girls. Since their efforts failed, Prajwala was asked to step in again. The NGO realised that these girls were reluctant and unwilling to go to Delhi mainly because they did not want to relive the trauma and agony which they had undergone. It was decided to move the trial court for facilitating the recording of evidence of these girls to their hometowns. However, the court did not approve of this for want of required infrastructure. The matter was, therefore, taken up with the High Court of Delhi which directed the government counsel to look for alternatives. Since National Informatics Centre did not have the required facilities, the counsels for the government and the NGO took initiative, interacted with the government of Andhra Pradesh and found that video conferencing facility was available in Andhra Bhawan, New Delhi. The A.P. government agreed to provide this facility, which they have in Delhi and the concerned district headquarters in Andhra Pradesh. The High Court confirmed the availability of these facilities at A.P. Bhawan by judicial officers and then gave orders for recording the evidence of the victims through video conferencing. The court also directed that the state of Andhra Pradesh make appropriate arrangements for the same and that the trial court ensure adequate safeguards enumerated in the decision of the Supreme Court in State of Maharashtra vs.Dr. Praful B. Desai, 2003 4 SCC 601. This was a historical decision of the Delhi High Court because, for the first time in India, inter-state video conferencing was being utilised in criminal trials.  Once implemented, this judgment can go a long way in protecting the rights of trafficked victims and, therefore, is a judgment truly honouring the human rights of the victims.

B. R. Ambedkar delivering a speech to a rally ...

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Dr. B. R. Ambedkar (Bengal: General): The point that I want to make is this, that, while I have no objection to the redrafting of sub-clause (a) and (b) in order that they may run in a compact manner, I have a certain amount of doubt as to whether the dropping of the Explanation is in consonance with the desire of the majority of the members of the Advisory Committee that the State should not have power in any way for introducing compulsory service. Mr. Munshi suggests that, if the clause stands as redrafted and if the Explanation is omitted, nonetheless, the State will have the right to introduce compulsory military service. I have not had sufficient time to apply my mind to the consequences of the proposed change, i.e., the dropping of the Explanation but I fear that the dropping of the Explanation and retaining the clause in the form in which it is stated may have opposite and serious consequences. Because ‘begar is also something which is imposed by the State. So far as I know, in Bombay, ‘begar’ is demanded by the State for certain public purposes, and if the State is prohibited from having ‘begar’ it is perfectly possible for anybody to argue that even compulsory military service is begar. I am, therefore, not quite satisfied that the dropping of the Explanation is something which is advisable at this stage. I am not in a position to suggest any definite course of action in this matter, but I think I shall be sufficiently discharging my duties if I draw the attention of the House to the doubt which I have in mind about the effect which the dropping of the Explanation may have on the right of the State in regard to compulsory service either for military purposes or for social purposes for the State. MY suggestion would be that at this state we should not drop the Explanation, but leave it as it is and have the whole matter reconsidered the Provincial Constitution and he Federal Constitution are when drafted in their final form.

     Shrimati Dakshayani Velayudan (Madras: General) Mr. President, I have great pleasure in commending Clause 11 because it is a clause which mostly relates to a community, a vast regiment of people who are subjected to untold miseries for so many centuries. Sir, even nowadays we find traffic in human beings in some parts of India and this clause will have a great effect on the underdogs of this land who will have a voice when India gets her independence. This clause will bring about an economic revolution in the fascist social structure existing in India. All the disabilities of the underdogs of this land are mainly due to the economic backwardness of the unfortunate brethren of the neglected community. It is unfortunate that a section of the people of this land will have to work without getting any remuneration whatsoever, even for their daily maintenance and the people who work in the fields or in other places– will have to go back to their homes even without getting a single pie. They have not got the right to demand the wages even though they will work for day and night. If the people are called upon to work and if they do not go for that work they will get punishments. That is what we find in certain Provinces of India like the United Provinces. Even if there is not the system of ‘begar’ in other parts of India, almost a similar sort of compulsion exists throughout India and the majority of the people are subjected to exploitation economical and in all sorts of ways. The underdogs of this land are deprived of the facilities that make life happy. This System ought to have been, abolished even before the Provinces got self-government. Even if there are rules and regulations regarding this in certain provinces, the system still prevails and the people who are subjected to the system have no voice whatsoever in deciding their fate. So, this clause when it comes into existence will give great relief to a great number of people who are subjected to economic exploitation. When this sort of economic exploitation is eliminated from this land, the underdogs also will rise up and will be in a position to assert their rights and keep up their self respect and dignity and they too will have a right to enjoy like the people belonging to the upper class and upper caste. I have great pleasure in supporting this clause.

     Mr. B. Das (Orissa: General): I have great pleasure in supporting Mr. Munshi’s amendment to Clause 11. I accept the new draft of the clause. Sir, I have studied a good deal of forced labour problems since 1929. I was a member of the Forced Labour Convention in Geneva in 1929. India accepted the Forced Labour Convention in 1930, but the Indian States, with certain exceptions, did not accept it. That practice does not exist among the major States whose representatives I find today in this House. Sir, in my part of the country forced labour has been taken advantage of by most of the small Indian States. They receive grants from the Government of India for the construction of roads and utilise the money for their own purposes and by means of forced labour they construct roads and other civil works. Therefore, Sir, I do not apprehend the trouble which my friend Dr. Ambedkar has just now voiced. In case of national emergency the State must come forward and everybody must compulsorily work for the country, be it war or famine or drought. But I do not want any lacuna left over which will allow some of the Indian Princes to use forced labour for their own gains.

     Sir, one point I am not satisfied with is whether traffic in human beings includes women traffic. Sir, some of us have studied this problem about women’s traffic for the last ten years or more. Unfortunately, every year thousands of women of Orissa and the Province of Bengal, where there are surplus women, are carried away to other parts of India. There is a regular traffic going on by crooks and gangsters who carry away these women to some outside Provinces. I do not know whether they are regular house-wives or whether they lead the life of shame. We do know that in provinces like the Punjab and the Frontier the number of women is less than the population of men.

     Sir, we had the painful experience during the Bengal famine when lakhs of women were spirited away. Whether these women were taken to the provinces where there are less women or whether they were used to supply women to the huge British army that was then in the eastern part of India, that is a problem that social workers must work out, But I would have been happy to see “traffic in women” being specifically mentioned in the clause. Those of us who belong to the eastern part of India still apprehend that in spite of this provision in the Fundamental Rights, traffic in women will be carried on by unscrupulous moneymakers. I, therefore, want Sardar Patel to assure me whether he has in contemplation some kind of legislation by which this traffic in women may be stopped for ever.

     Sir, I want a further assurance from the representatives of the Indian States here whether they will persuade their colleagues in the less advanced States to abolish forced labour which is a source of profit and gain to many small principalities in India.

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