Shakti Vahini in collaboration with the Special Police Unit for Women and Children, Delhi organized a day long consultation on Child Legislations and Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, 2013 at the Conference Hall of YMCA on January 17, 2014. The programme was attended by the police officers of the 11 Special Juvenile Police Unit of Delhi, Chairperson and Members of the Child Welfare Committee, a bench of Magistrate, members of the Child Protection Committee, Delhi. Nearly 100 participants attended the programme.
Sessions on various issues on Women and Children was taken by the Resource persons from the Delhi Police, Delhi Commission for Protection of Child Rights, National Commission for Protection of Child Rights and the advocates of the Supreme Court of India.
Inspector (Mr.) S. S. Malhan, Special Police Unit for Women and Children took the session on “Role of Special Juvenile Police Unit (SJPU) in Handling Juvenile issues. Mr. Malhan in his session categorically described about the role of the SJPu with various case studies. Appreciating the role of NGOs in handling the issues of women and children in partnership with the Delhi police he requested all the police officers present in the programme to take the assistance of NGOs whenever they come across any cases of Children and Women. He said, “Our police officers should investigate the cases of Juvenile in conflict with law keeping in the mind that there may be involvement of the adult in the crime and FIR should be filed against them immediately.”
Citing various landmark judgements of the High Court of Delhi and the Supreme Court of India he dwelt at length on child protection and the role of the police officers in investigation of the case. Especially on the issue of the age determination he categorically explained the role of the Investigation officers, Child Welfare Committee, Juvenile Justice Board and the respective court. He also explained the role of the Delhi Legal Service Authority (DLSA) in handling the juvenile cases. He said, “The Member Secretary of the Delhi Legal Service Authority is the nodal officer in implementing the High Court Orders.”
Mr. Shashank Shekhar, Member, Delhi Commission for Protection of Child Rights spoke on the “Role of DCPCR in Child Protection.” During his presentation Mr. Shekhar said, “The Delhi Commission for Protection of Child Rights (DCPCR) has been constituted under the Commission for Protection of Child Rights (CPCR) Act, 2005 vide a notification issued by the Govt. of NCT of Delhi on 7 July, 2008. The Act empowers the Commission to act as a Civil Court to undertake suo-motu enquiry and also look into complaints related to deprivation and violation of child rights and non-implementation of laws for protection and development of children. The Commission is mandated to intervene in matters where-ever there is a failure to implement policies, decisions, guidelines or instructions as per the perspective of the rights of a child enshrined in the Constitution of India and also the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. The Commission is actively and effectively monitoring rescue & rehabilitation of child labour specially involving migrant children, cases falling under Right to Education, medical crisis in schools, children’s right to play in parks, promotion of adoption of girl child, prevention of sexual abuse of children, checking child trafficking, children in need of care and protection etc.” Mr. Shashank Shekhar has also cited various landmark orders and achievements of the commission.
Adv. (Mr.) Ravi Kant had a long session on the Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, 2013. He gave a detailed presentation on Human Trafficking in India. He explained the recent changes in Section 370 IPC which has criminalised trafficking in persons and also prescribed stringent punishment for the offence .
While speaking on Section 370 IPC he said that While the old section 370 of IPC dealt with only buying or disposing of any person as a slave the new section will take in its purview buying or disposing of any person for various kinds of exploitation including slavery. This provision includes organ trade. As the explanation further clarifies “exploitation” would also include prostitution. This is in addition to the ITP Act, 1956. The intention of the legislature in including “other forms of sexual exploitation” and “forced labour or services” can be read to address situations where the trafficked persons are used for pornographic purposes or services like massage parlours.
The new section also ensures that persons involved at each and every stage of trafficking chain are brought within the criminal justice system. Also by specifically including that if a person is brought with his/her consent, where such consent is obtained through force, coercion, fraud, deception or under abuse of power, the same will amount to trafficking, the law has been substantially strengthened. This will cover all situations where girls who happen to be major are duped with promises of marriage and willingly accompany the traffickers who exploit them in various ways. While earlier no specific offence was made out for the mere bringing of the girl in question now that too is criminalized. It has also been specifically added in the provision that consent of the victim is immaterial for the determination of the offence.
The new section also differentiates the instances of trafficking major persons from minor persons. This differentiation is brought about by providing separate penalty for each with higher minimum sentence for trafficking minor persons. While earlier no minimum imprisonment term was provided, now, the minimum (rigorous) imprisonment term is fixed.
In addition the section also provides for enhanced punishment for repeated offender as well as where the offender traffics more than one person at the same time. By providing that trafficking in minor persons on a repeated conviction will attract imprisonment for life (meaning the remaining natural life) the law has been substantially changed. This will surely act as a big deterrent. Involvement of a public servant including a police officer shall entitle him to life imprisonment which shall mean the remaining natural life.
Also ‘370A. (1) Whoever, despite knowing, or having reason to believe that a child has been trafficked, employs such child in any form of labour, shall be punished with rigorous imprisonment for a term which shall not be less than five years but w h i c h may extend to seven years, and with fine.
(2) Whoever, despite knowing or having reason to believe that an adult has been trafficked, employs such adult for labour, shall be punished with rigorous imprisonment for a term which shall not be less than three years but which may extend to five years, and shall also be liable to fine.’
Addition of the section 370 A further adds strength to trafficking related law by criminalizing employment of a trafficked (major/minor) person. A person who has even reason to believe or apprehension that the minor/major person employed by them has been trafficked will make them criminally liable. This places a huge responsibility on the employers who were till now, let off easily under the not so strict provisions of the child labour laws and juvenile related laws.
Here also a higher minimum prison term is prescribed where a minor person is involved. Also important is the fact that irrespective of age of the person employed, simply employing a trafficked person is an offence.
This provision will go a long way in ensuring that people verify the antecedents of the placement agencies as also get the police verification of the persons employed. This will also aide in curbing the huge demand for labour who are victims of unsafe migration.
Mr. Kant also spoke on the victim Compensation schemes of the Govt. of Delhi. He said there is various strata in the scheme under which the victims can be compensated as far as the gravity of exploitation. He added that the Investigation Officers should play the pivotal role in getting the compensation sanctioned by the concerned District Legal Service Authority.
Mr. Vinod Kumar Tikoo, the former Member of the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights took an informative session on “Child Protection and Police Involvement.” In his presentation he said, “The role of Police is very important in getting a victim justice. An Investigation Officer should not keep any stone unturned for the justice of the victim as far as the investigation of the case is concerned.” He also cited the example of two states Jharkhand and North Bengal districts of West Bengal where there is a major development in police involvement of the police in the recent years.
Citing the issue of Child Trafficking Mr. Tikkoo added, “There is a kind of drugs which the traffickers use in making the victim unconscious while bringing them to the destination. The moment the victim gets back her conscious she was already sold to 2/3 persons.” He also discussed about the proactive police NGO Partnership in handling cases related to children. The joint operation of NGOs, Police and CWC is very important in combatting the child trafficking and other issues.
Ms. Ranjita Sahoo, Representative of the Child Protection Group spoke about the functiniong of the group and how the group members can help the police while handling the juvenile cases. She said that the Child Protection Group is a group of the NGO representatives working on Child Protection. The Child Protection Group has been following various guidelines of the NCPCR on “Safe Guarding the Children in The Railway Platforms.”
The Programme was ended with a vote of thanks by Mr. Nishi Kant, Exeutive Director of Shakti Vahini.