The draft Human Trafficking Bill, which has proposed severe punishment that may extend to life term for offenders, and a national body for rescue and rehabilitation, is likely to be taken up for inter-ministerial discussions later this week.
“The draft has been finalised from our end. We have now called for a meeting of an inter-ministerial committee to deliberate upon the proposals,” official sources said.
The meeting is likely to take place on September 15.
The committee will comprise representatives from the Ministry of Home Affairs, Ministry of Law and Justice, Ministry of Health and Family Affairs, Skill Development and NGOs.
The Ministry of Women and Child Development hopes to place the draft Bill before Parliament during the Winter Session.
The draft, which has been revised at least five times since it was unveiled in May, now has a provision for a pan-India communication network, which will include hotlines for preventing trafficking.
A national-level body, National Bureau on Trafficking in Persons, which will coordinate interstate and transborder rescue activities and rehabilitation of victims, has also been mooted.
The draft broadly divides offences into “trafficking” and “aggravated trafficking”.
The punishment for offences in the former category is rigourous imprisonment between 7 and 10 years and a fine of not less than Rs one lakh.
Aggravated forms of trafficking will invite a jail term of between 14 years and life imprisonment and a fine of not less than Rs 5 lakh. This applies in cases of trafficking of children, transgenders, differently-abled, and use of drugs, among others.
The Bill was unveiled in May by Minister for Women and Child Development Maneka Gandhi and had come under severe criticism by NGOs, which called it “vague and full of loopholes” and demanded “a deeper, wider consultation”.