Anti-trafficking bill deficient, refer it to house panel: Tharoor

New Delhi: Senior Congress lawmaker Shashi Tharoor on Thursday said the bill to prevent trafficking, especially of women and children, had “deficiencies” and hence should be referred to a parliamentary standing committee for discussion.

Participating in the debate on The Trafficking of Persons (Prevention, Protection and Rehabilitation) Bill, 2018, in the Lok Sabha, Tharoor said that two United Nations experts had publicly warned that the bill is “so bad”.

“It will be ill-advised for the government to ignore the public warnings,” he said.

Tharoor said that the UN Special Rapporteur on Trafficking in Persons as well as the UN Special Rapporteur on Contemporary forms of Slavery had said that trafficking in persons is primarily a human rights violation, but the bill overemphasises the criminal aspect and does not give due consideration to the rights and needs of victims and their effective protection and proper rehabilitation.

“I do agree that women and children are vulnerable because our laws fail them. Let us not have one more law which will fail them,” the Congress leader said.

Tharoor said that he was not opposing the bill per se but its deficiencies should be addressed.

“I request that the Minister (concerned) refer this bill to a standing committee. It is astonishing that it has not been done… we can formulate a model law against trafficking which the whole world, the whole of south Asia, can look up to and say India has set an example,” the lawmaker said.

Tharoor said that the bill can be brought in the next session of Parliament once it has been scrutinised by the standing committee.

Tharoor’s demand was supported by some other opposition members.

The bill was moved by Women and Child Development Minister Maneka Gandhi and aims, among other things, to prosecute offenders and to create a legal, economic and social environment conducive to the victims.