Don't act mechanically with child trafficking, SC tells government

New Delhi: The Supreme Court Thursday pulled up the central government for acting mechanically in forwarding to it the information furnished by the state governments on the steps taken by them for eradicating child trafficking without examining it.

"It can't be a mechanical thing. You are not a post office," said a bench of Justice Anil R. Dave, Justice Madan B. Lokur and Justice Kurian Joseph. The court told Additional Solicitor General Neeraj Kishan Kaul that there could be two approaches.

Firstly, one, the central government saying that in pursuance to the court's order, it had written to the state governments but did not get a reply and was informing the court, and secondly, saying it had written to the state governments, got a reply but it was not satisfactory.

The court's stinging observation came in the course of the hearing of a PIL by Prajwala seeking to curb child trafficking and for rehabilitation of victims so that they could lead normal and independent lives after being rescued.

Faced with a court unwilling to take excuses, Kaul told the court that in pursuance to its Oct 30, 2014 order seeking information as to what steps were taken by the central and state governments for eradicating child trafficking, some states have replied while some states "have given an evasive reply". The court was told that only 10 states have responded to the central government's communication.

Not satisfied, the court asked when did the central government seek the state governments' response and on being told the states were asked to respond on Dec 12, sought to know why it took one and a half months to write to the state governments. When told the government got the copy of the order Nov 30, the court asked that even then why did it take 12 days for the government to write to the states.

Having made its displeasure known in no uncertain terms over the central government's laidback approach in addressing its order on socially sensitive issues, the court gave it two months time to seek response from the states and file an affidavit on the steps taken by it and the state governments for the implementation of its directions issued way back in 1990.

The court by its May 2, 1990 order had directed that all the states and union territories should "direct their concerned law enforcing authorities to take appropriate and speedy action under the existing laws in eradicating child prostitution without giving room for any complaint of remissness or culpable indifference".

It had also said that the states and union territories would set up a separate advisory committee within their respective zones consisting of officials and experts. The court Thursday also wanted to know the frequency with which these advisory committees were meeting and what were their terms.

"What are advisory committees doing? What are their terms? Some were set up in 2003. Are they for life? What are their terms?" it asked. The court also sought the government response on an application by the petitioner seeking putting in place a multi-disciplinary national anti-trafficking board on the lines of the Narcotics Control Board.

The petitioner's application said: "Given the magnitude of trafficking and human misery attached to it, it has now become the need of the hour that trafficking is dealt with as an organised crime with support to the victims."

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