Hearings of the PIL: A brief run through

The hearings of this PIL which began in the month of July, 2017 have seen both the State of MH and Union of India make attempts to show what steps have been taken by both parties for tackling the problem of trafficking in Maharashtra.

During the first hearing which took place in the month of July, 2017, Advocate Chetan Malee, appearing on behalf of the Petitioners stated in brief the matters raised in this PIL, namely non-registration of FIR’s under section 370 and 373 of IPC and non investigation of crimes of trafficking by the Anti Human Trafficking Units and Special Police officers, even though the law specified investigations of these crimes by Special Police Officers under section 13 sub-clause 1 and sub-clause 4 of the Prevention of Immoral Trafficking Act, 1956. He also mentioned how such faulty investigations resulted in non prosecution of the spotters, recruiters and transporters.

The Union of India has in its response to the Court stated it had already directed the State of MH to appoint special officers under ITPA. Ironically, the Union further stated unless the State Government sends a proposal for appointment of Human trafficking officers, there were no further steps that the Central Government could take.

On the other hand, the State of Maharashtra took over 6 months to file their reply and pursuant only to the Hon’ble Court passing an order that unless a reply on affidavit was filed, the Court would take steps for departmental proceedings against the official responsible for filing such reply.

During the last hearing on 9th February, 2018, the State in its reply before the Court submitted that there 12 Anti Human Trafficking Cells established in Maharashtra and that it was taking efforts under a Memorandum of Understanding for the rescue, rehabilitation and repatriation of victims of trafficking with the government of West Bengal.

The Court asked the Union of India to file a reply on the steps the Central Government had taken for the appointment of Special Police Officers under ITPA within 4 weeks.