This article on ‘Human Trafficking in India: Laws (Special Reference to Daler Mehndi Case)‘ was written by an intern at Legal Upanishad.
We are living in the 21st century where every person has conferred rights. But still, some people don’t have the right to live independently. Their rights and ways of living are decided by other people. They are treated as servants and slaves. This is known as “human trafficking” or “modern slavery” worldwide. It has become a global cause and is contributing to modern slavery. We can see the symptoms of human trafficking in almost every walk of life. One of the most common ones is when we go for a drive and we stop at the traffic light.
At the traffic light, it is quite likely that you will see a child begging or trying to sell you something. This is not anything else, but it is from human trafficking, where they were forced by traffickers to do this. It is high time to stop this shit and take some action against it. In this piece, we will discuss the meaning of human trafficking, its causes and effects, provisions related to human trafficking in India, a special case reference on human trafficking in India, and how to tackle this global problem.
What is Human Trafficking?
Human trafficking is the act of restraining a human being or child by force, fraud, or coercion without his or her express wish to make a profit. In simple words, it refers to the illegal buying or selling of not only women and children but also men for sexual abuse, slave activities, begging purposes, forced labour through force or coercion, or abducting people. It is an exploitation act like slavery during the British period.
The United Nations Office for Drugs and Crime (UNDOC) defined it as the recruitment, transport, transfer, harbouring or receipt of a person by such means as threat or use of force or other forms of coercion, abduction, fraud, or deception for the purpose of exploitation.
Causes of Human Trafficking
Human trafficking is a serious cause of concern in the world. If we look at the data on human trafficking in India, we see that every hour, 15 children go missing, and more than half of them are never found. This affects the rights of their family and their children. According to the United Nations report (2016), the most common human trafficking is sexual exploitation, and around 79% of women and girls are engaged in it. The second one is forced labour, where 18% of men and boys are traded to cities and other countries to work in mines, build factories, etc.
It haunts, causes anger, and raises a question: what are the reasons behind human trafficking? These are the following reasons which cause human trafficking in India:
- Effective laws- There is not a proper law that prevails in India to restrict human trafficking. According to reports, India has the worst records in the world, but no laws are in place to prevent this.
- Socio-economic practice- In many countries, socio-economic practice is one of the major factors that are responsible for human trafficking. Socio-economic practices create a wide gap in society. In some places, bonded labour is acceptable for the payment of debt. This factor can lead victims to not speak up about being trafficked.
- Poverty- One of the primary causes of human trafficking is poverty. It is a situation in which people do not have enough basic items to meet their basic needs, and as a result, it forces people to become traffickers or forces parents to sell their children or other family members.
- Migration- Human trafficking occurs when people migrate from one location to another in search of work. Traffickers give them the promise of job opportunities in other countries. When they are ready traffickers by using illegal smuggling and sent them to other countries as sex workers or as forced labour.
Laws related to Human Trafficking in India
There are different laws which deal against human trafficking in India. These are the important laws which are implemented for the protection of victims of human trafficking.
- The Indian constitution has provisions under Article 23(1) which state that trafficking in human beings or persons is prohibited under law, and 24(1) protects children below age 14 from working in factories, mines, or other hazardous employment.
- The Indian Penal Code, 1860, deals with human trafficking in India. Section 360 (kidnapping from India), Section 361 (kidnapping from lawful guardianship), and Sections 362, 363-A, 365, 366, and 366-A have provisions to deal with it. The government took a major step after the Nirbhaya incident and introduced the Criminal Law Amendment Act in 2013 and implemented a new law under Section 370. This Act punishes all acts of human trafficking in human beings and their exploitation.
- Sections 372, 373, 354, 354-A, 354-B, 354-C, and 356-D, 366-B, 374, 375, and 376 encompass certain provisions related to human trafficking.
- The Bonded Labour System Abolition Act, 1976: This Act was enacted to protect the Weaker Sections of society from being subjected to a bonded labour system in which human beings are physically and mentally exploited. This Act states that no one is forced to perform bonded labour or any custom that requires anyone to perform bonded labour. There is a provision for imprisonment of up to 3 years and a fine of up to 2,000.
- The Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act, 1956 is the primary legislation for the prevention of trafficking for commercial purposes.
- Child and Adolescent Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act, 1986: This Act is legislation to prohibit the engagement of children and adolescents in hazardous occupations.
The Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012 is the first law that has been passed to address the issue of sexual offences against children.
Daler Mehndi Case Controversy
Recently, a famous singer, Daler Mehndi, was sentenced to two years in jail by the Patiala Court for a 2003 human trafficking case, aka Daler Mehndi Case. Now have a look at the Daler Mehndi case with a reference to human trafficking, or “kabutarbajji”.
The fact of the case is that he and his late brother, who died in 2017, alleged that 10 people were illegally taken as members of their troops and sent to the US in exchange for money in 1989 and 1990.
The complainant had alleged that both brothers had taken money from them to help them go to the US illegally but didn’t do so.
The police found the immigration fraud was informal. In January 2006, police filed two discharge petitions and moved to the court, which held that Daler and his brother had no connection with immigration fraud. But the court ruled that there was enough evidence against the singer and his brother.
Mehndi was convicted under the different Sections of IPC: 406(Punishment for criminal breach of trust), 420(Offence related to cheating), 120B(Offense related to conspiracy), 465(Punishment for forgery), 468(Forgery for purpose of cheating), and 471(using as genuine a forged document) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and Indian Passport Act in 2003. More than 30 complaints have been filed against Mehndi.
The Judicial Magistrate’s first-class court found both of them guilty and sentenced them to 2-years jail and a 2,000 fine in 2018. But after a few minutes, the court granted bail to him. A probation application was filed by the singer but the Patiala court dismissed the application. He had already been punished for 2 years in jail in 2018, after which the court sentenced him. He also filed a plea against the sentence, but his plea was rejected by the court.
Pronouncing the judgment, Patiala Additional Sessions Judge HS Grewal ordered the immediate arrest of Daler Mehndi. The singer Daler Mehndi has an option to move the High Court against the decision of the session court.
There are the following suggestions by which we can fight the serious cause of concern:
- By increasing awareness among people regarding this global cause.
- By introducing new and effective laws in place of old ones.
- Strengthening the education system will help to deal with this problem.
- Serious measures are taken by the government for poverty eradication.
- By closing socioeconomic gaps in society.
Human trafficking is a heinous crime where traffickers do human beings’ trade. It is contributing to modern slavery where women, children, as well as men are treated like animals. It is a global issue that doesn’t discriminate based on age, caste, sex, religion, and gender. Most of the human trafficking victims are women and children. That’s why government schemes are centred around them. It is a multi-dollar business for criminals.
So many activists and socialists demand a proper law for the protection of victims of human trafficking. But after so many years and efforts to bring a new law, the Trafficking of Persons (Prevention, Protection, and Rehabilitation) Bill 2018 passed in 2021. It was like old wine in a new bottle.
- What is human trafficking? Available at: https://www.undoc.org (Last visited on 15-07-22)
- Causes of human trafficking available at: https://www.iblogpleaders.com (Last visited on 15-07-22)
- Laws related to human trafficking available at: https://www.scconline.com (Last visited on 15-07-22)
- Reference of Daler Mehndi case available at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Daler_Mehndi/ https://www.timesnowhindi.com/ https://www.timesnownews.com/mirror-now/in-focus/daler-mehndi-sentenced-two-years-in-human-trafficking-case-to-be-arrested (Last visited on 15-07-22)
- The Indian Penal Code 1860 of s.406, 420, 120B, 465, 468, and 471.