Child trafficking: SC expresses displeasure over Centre's pace

Supreme Court on Thursday expressed annoyance over the Centre moving at a slow pace in coordinating with state governments on curbing the menace of child trafficking and prostitution.

New Delhi: Supreme Court on Thursday expressed annoyance over the Centre moving at a slow pace in coordinating with state governments on curbing the menace of child trafficking and prostitution.

 The apex court expressed its anguish as it noted that the Centre had taken over a month to inform state governments about its October 30, 2014 order through which it had sought details about actions taken in pursuance of its directions issued in 1990 on the issue.

 Observing that its October 30, 2014 order was only communicated to the states only on December 12, a three-judge bench, headed by Justice Anil R Dave, also took exception to the fact that the Centre had only written letters to states and not taken any corrective steps on the "evasive" replies by certain states.

 Further, the bench, which also comprised justices Madan B Lokur and Kurian Joseph, expressed anguish over the absence of clarity in the functioning of advisory committees set up in various states for eradicating prostitution and implementation of other welfare programmes to prevent child exploitation.

 "What is this Advisory Committee? What does it mean? What is their term of reference? When do they meet? Are its members for life or a particular period," the bench asked while noting that in some states, these committees were formed in 2003 or 2005 but there was hardly any mention of when they last met.

 "Only writing letters is not enough. It can't be a mechanical exercise. You can't be working as a post office," the bench said, adding, "You can write a letter and if you are not satisfied with a reply, you spell it out".

 The remarks were made when Additional Solicitor General N K Kaul, made submissions to impress the bench that letters had been written to states and some of them had not responded.
 The court also directed the states which have not filed their responses to provide the requisite information to the Centre soon.

 The Court, which posted the matter for March 18, asked the government to respond to the suggestions of NGO 'Prajwala' seeking creation of "Victim Protection Protocol" for the rescued survivors of commercial sexual exploitation who were victims of serious forms of sexual slavery.

"Given the complex nature of the crime and the subsequent process of rehabilitation being even more complex, it becomes necessary to engage with multiple agencies in a coordinated manner. That coordination is completely lacking in the existing system which creates huge gaps in the implementation of law and policy," the NGO Prajwala said.

 It said there was a need to have a multi disciplinary, national anti-trafficking Board on the lines of Narcotics Control Board, which would coordinate with all agencies engaged in prevention, rescue, rehabilitation and re- integration in addition to prosecution.

 The NGO also proposed measures for pre-rescue, rescue and post-rescue stages of rehabilitation of commercially and sexually-exploited women and children.

 The court had in 1990 asked all states to form Advisory Committees to make suggestions for eradicating prostitution.

 It had asked the state governments and the union territories to direct their law-enforcing authorities to take appropriate and speedy action under existing laws to eradicate child prostitution "without giving room for any complaint of remissness or culpable indifference".

 "These governments should also devise a machinery for ensuring proper implementation of suggestions of their respective committees," it had then said.

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