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Draft Bill on human trafficking in, NIA to be nodal agency


Mains Paper 2: Governance | mechanisms, laws, institutions & Bodies constituted for the protection & betterment of vulnerable sections

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Trafficking of Persons (Prevention, Protection, and Rehabilitation) Bill, 2018, National Investigation Agency (NIA), Nirbhaya fund for safety of women

Mains level: Human trafficking in India and ways to stop it


Bill to stop human trafficking

  1. The Union Cabinet approved the draft Trafficking of Persons (Prevention, Protection, and Rehabilitation) Bill, 2018
  2. The proposed legislation addresses the issue of trafficking from the point of view of prevention, rescue and rehabilitation

Key Provisions 

  1. The National Investigation Agency (NIA) will act as the nodal authority for probing cases of human trafficking
  2. The bill also proposes a punishment of life imprisonment for repeat offenders
  3. Aggravated forms of trafficking, which includes trafficking for the purpose of forced labor, begging, trafficking by administering chemical substance or hormones on a person for the purpose of early sexual maturity would carry a jail term of seven to 10 years
  4. Trafficking of a woman or child for the purpose of marriage or under the pretext of marriage or after marriage would carry a punishment of at least 10 years in jail, which can be extended to life imprisonment with a fine of Rs 1 lakh
  5. The draft Bill also moots three years in jail for abetting, promoting and assisting trafficking

Relief measures

  1. The proposed legislation recommends a national anti-trafficking relief and rehabilitation committee which would be headed by Secretary, WCD Ministry
  2. The Bill provides for interim relief immediately to victims within 30 days to address their trauma and further appropriate relief within 60 days from the date of filing of chargesheet
  3. The NIA will receive financial aid under Nirbhaya fund for safety of women in order to set up a cell for investigating human trafficking


National Investigation Agency (NIA)

  1. National Investigation Agency (NIA) is a central agency established by the Indian Government to combat terror in India
  2. It acts as the Central Counter-Terrorism Law Enforcement Agency
  3. The agency is empowered to deal with terror-related crimes across states without special permission from the states
  4. The Agency came into existence with the enactment of the National Investigation Agency Act 2008 by the Parliament of India on 31 December 2008
  5. The Agency has been empowered to conduct investigation and prosecution of offenses under the Acts specified in the Schedule of the NIA Act
  6. Officers of the NIA who are drawn from the Indian Revenue Service, Indian Police Service, state police, Income Tax as well as officers from the Central Armed Police Forces, have all powers, privileges and liabilities which the police officers have in connection with investigation of any offense
  7. Various Special Courts have been notified by the Central Government of India for trial of the cases registered at various police stations of NIA under Section 11 and 22 of the NIA Act 2008
  8. The NIA Special Courts are empowered with all powers of the court of sessions under Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 for trial of any offense

SC seeks details on over-crowded prisons


Mains Paper 2: Governance | mechanisms, laws, institutions & Bodies constituted for the protection & betterment of vulnerable sections

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: National Legal Services Authority, Under Trial Review Committees (UTRCs)

Mains level: Human rights of convicts and deteriorating conditions of prisons


Over occupancy in prisons

  1. The Supreme Court has asked the National Legal Services Authority (NALSA) to provide details and figures of prisons where the occupancy rate is over 150% as on December 31, 2017
  2. SC has also asked to provide the number of posts lying vacant in major prisons across the country
  3. The top court is hearing a matter relating to inhuman conditions prevailing in 1,382 prisons across the country

Procedure related to UTRCs

  1. SC agreed to hear issues related to standard operating procedure for Under Trial Review Committees (UTRCs) and the possibility of open jails
  2. The UTRCs, set up in every district, deliberates and recommends the release of undertrial prisoners and convicts who have completed their sentences or are entitled to be released from jail due to bail or remission granted to them
  3. Semi-open prisons or open prisons allow convicts to work outside the jail premises and earn a livelihood and return in the evening

SC support to open prisons

  1. On September 15, last year, a Supreme Court judgment had encouraged the need for open prisons
  2. It had urged for steps like the appointment of counsellors and support persons for prisoners, particularly first-time offenders
  3. The apex court had suggested steps like more family visits for prisoners and use of phones and video-conferencing not only between a prisoner and family but also his lawyers

[op-ed snap] Rethinking trafficking

Image Source


Mains Paper 2: Governance | Welfare schemes for vulnerable sections of the population by the Centre and States and the performance of these schemes; mechanisms, laws, institutions and Bodies constituted for the protection and betterment of these vulnerable sections.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), Trafficking of Persons (Prevention, Protection and Rehabilitation) Bill, 2016, ‘Global estimates of modern slavery: forced labour and forced marriage’, wtc.

Mains level: The newscard discusses some issues related to the Trafficking of Persons (Prevention, Protection and Rehabilitation) Bill, 2016.


‘Global estimates of modern slavery: forced labour and forced marriage’

  1. It was a collaborative effort of the International Labour Organisation (ILO), the Walk Free Foundation, and the International Organisation for Migration
  2. It did not name countries, but the writing on the wall was clear as 17,000 interviews had been conducted in India, and 61.78% of the “modern slaves” were in Asia and the Pacific
  3. India protested against the release of a report

Complex structure of anti-trafficking laws in India

  1. It ranges from the Indian Penal Code and the Immoral Traffic Prevention Act (ITPA), 1986, to social welfare legislation on contract and bonded labour, and inter-state migrant work
  2. While criminal laws like the ITPA target ‘bad men’ traffickers, labour laws presume endemic exploitation in labour markets
  3. In India, a combination of penal, labour and contract laws are used to impose obligations for better working conditions
  4. Unfortunately, as the topic of trafficking gained international prominence, the government understood trafficking to be equivalent to sex trafficking and sex work

Issues with the Trafficking of Persons (Prevention, Protection and Rehabilitation) Bill, 2016

  1. The current definition of trafficking in Section 370 of the IPC is not limited to sex work; yet, the Trafficking Bill is patently neoabolitionist
  2. It pursues the classic raid-rescue-rehabilitation model, with stringent penalties for trafficking
  3. It creates a plethora of new institutions with unclear roles, capacious powers (including for surveillance) and no accountability
  4. There is no clarity on how the Bill relates to the ITPA and to labour laws

What should be done?

  1. Many scholars, activists and workers’ rights groups argued against extending a criminal law, raid-rescue-rehabilitation model beyond sex work to other labour sectors
  2. They called instead for
    (1) a multi-faceted legal and economic strategy;
    (2) robust implementation of labour laws; a universal social protection floor;
    (3) self-organisation of workers;
    (4) improved labour inspection,
    (5) including in the informal economy; and
    (6) corporate accountability for decent work conditions
  3. They also reiterated the need for systemic reforms to counter distress migration, end caste-based discrimination, enforce the rural employment guarantee legislation, avoid the indiscriminate rescue of voluntary sex workers, and protect migrants’ mobility and rights
  4. As the introduction of the Trafficking Bill in Parliament appears imminent, only a bold, holistic response to what is a socioeconomic problem of labour exploitation can help India realise SDG 8.7



  1. Neoabolitionist (or neo-abolitionist or new abolitionism) is a term used in historiography to characterize historians of race relations motivated by the spirit of racial equality typified by the abolitionists who fought to abolish slavery in the mid-19th century
  2. They write especially about African-American history, slavery, the American Civil War and the Reconstruction Era
  3. As abolitionists had worked in the 19th century to end slavery and provide equal rights under the US Constitution to blacks, the new activists worked to enforce constitutional rights for all citizens and restore equality under the law for African Americans, including suffrage and civil rights
  4. In the late 20th century some historians emphasized the worlds of African Americans in their own words, in their own communities, to recognize them as agents, not victims. Publishing in the mid-1960s and through the 20th century, a new generation of historians began to revise traditional accounts of slavery in the United States, reconstruction, racial segregation and Jim Crow laws
  5. Some major historians began to apply the term “neoabolitionist” to such historians, and some of this group identified as such.

[op-ed snap] Khap menace: on interference in relationships between adults


Mains Paper 1: Social issues | Social empowerment

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Not much

Mains level: Rising cases of honour killings across India


SC observation on khap panchayats

  1. The Supreme court’s latest observations said that khap panchayats should not act as though they are conscience-keepers of society
  2. Also, that no one should interfere in relationships between adults
  3. This was said while it was hearing a writ petition seeking a ban on such community organisations and guidelines to put an end to “honour killings

Why do khap panchayats still prevail in modern society?

  1. The social milieu continues to be under the sway of the medieval-minded
  2. Parents and self-appointed guardians of social mores continue to use coercion and harassment, and even resort to murderous violence, as a means to enforce their exclusionary and feudal prejudices
  3. Families choose the penal consequences of violence over the perceived dishonour caused by an inter-religious relationship
  4. The popular narrative situates community pride as a source of unconscionable violence in rural India
  5. It is a reality in cities and among educated and presumably socially advanced sections too

Khap panchayats declared illegal

  1. In 2011, the highest court termed such khaps “kangaroo courts”, declared them illegal and wanted them stamped out ruthlessly
  2. The Law Commission in 2012 prepared a draft bill to prohibit interference in marriage alliances

Key provisions of draft bill

  1. Such informal groups would be treated as an ‘unlawful assembly’ 
  2. Decisions that amount to harassment, social boycott, discrimination or incitement to violence should be punishable with a minimum sentence

Way Forward

  1. Such views can only be eradicated with a change in social attitudes
  2. Legislative change with high-handed mediation or interference will help reduce such menace from society

Acid attack victims to get quota in central govt jobs


Mains Paper 2: Governance | mechanisms, laws, institutions & Bodies constituted for the protection & betterment of vulnerable sections

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016, Intellectual disability

Mains level: Measures taken by government for disabled persons


Special quota for acid attack survivors

  1. People with autism, mental illnesses, intellectual disability and victims of acid attacks will now get quota in central government jobs
  2. In case of direct recruitment, four percent of the total number of vacancies, up from the existing three percent, in groups A, B and C shall be reserved for people with benchmark disabilities
  3. Benchmark disability means a person with not less than forty percent of a specified disability

New Reservation Quota

  1. One percent of each post shall be reserved for people with blindness and low vision; deaf and hard of hearing; locomotor disability including cerebral palsy, leprosy cured, dwarfism, acid attack victims and muscular dystrophy
  2. One percent posts each shall be also reserved for people suffering from autism, intellectual disability, specific learning disability and mental illness
  3. The move to enhance reservation quota for those with learning disability and acid attack victims comes after passage of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016
  4. As per an earlier order of the DoPT, issued in 2005, three percent of the total posts were to be reserved for people with disabilities

Intellectual disability

  1. Intellectual disability is a condition characterised by significant limitations in intellectual functioning such as reasoning, learning and problem solving
  2. And in adaptive behaviour that covers a range of everyday skills

No adjustment in other quotas

  1. Provisions have been made to ensure that reservation for people with disabilities is not adjusted against the posts meant for those from Scheduled Caste and Other Backward Classes


Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016

  1. The Act replaces the Persons with Disabilities (Equal Opportunities, Protection of Rights and Full Participation) Act, 1995
  2. It fulfils the obligations to the United National Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD), to which India is a signatory
  3. Additional benefits such as reservation in higher education (not less than 5%), government jobs (not less than 4 %), reservation in allocation of land, poverty alleviation schemes (5% allotment) etc. have been provided for persons with benchmark disabilities and those with high support needs
  4. Every child with benchmark disability between the age group of 6 and 18 years shall have the right to free education
  5. The Act provides for penalties for offences committed against persons with disabilities and also violation of the provisions of the new law
  6. Special Courts will be designated in each district to handle cases concerning violation of rights of PwDs

[op-ed snap] The road from Tiruppur


Mains Paper 1: Social issues | Social empowerment

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: POA Act 1989

Mains level: Legislations for protection of vulnerable groups and their implementation


Amendment to POA Act

  1. The Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Amendment Act 2015 (POA Amend. Act) has begun to yield results
  2. The Act was enacted to comprehensively amend and strengthen the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act 1989 (POA Act 1989)

Provisions introduced via the amendment

  1. The act lays down a time limit of two months for completing trials
  2. Establish an exclusive special court
  3. Set up a high-powered “vigilance and monitoring committee”, with the chief minister as chairman and ministers of home, finance, and SC and ST departments, SC and ST MPs, MLAs and MLCs, senior bureaucrats, and local representatives of national commissions for SCs and STs as members
  4. This committee is required to meet every January and July and discharge functions listed in Rule 16
  5. The Act requires the two steps mentioned in points 2 and 3 to be taken by every state government

Recent judgment

  1. Tamil Nadu’s Tiruppur Principal District and Sessions Court has on December 12, 2017, convicted eight of the accused for the murder of V. Shankar, a B.Tech-educated Dalit youth, son of a labourer, as a punishment for the marriage between him and Kausalya, a non-Dalit, educated girl from a middle-class family
  2.  This case shows that the life of a young man with a promising career was snuffed out, the life of a young woman also with a promising career, blighted
  3.  This is an example of wholesale destruction caused by the caste system
  4. There have been a number of cases of the past where persons have been killed for Dalit and non-Dalit marriages and surviving wives and families are languishing

What should be done?

  1. Killings and other atrocities occur to the greatest extent in marriages between Dalits and non-Dalits
  2. This is a recent phenomenon, in addition to the atrocities on traditional grounds related to land, resistance to “untouchability”, etc.
  3. To cover such cases, it will be necessary to have a separate legislation with provisions for the effective protection, a deterrent death sentence, and total rehabilitation
  4. This is particularly important because inter-caste marriages are bound to take place and should become more frequent

Way forward

  1. The perils of the caste system, including its adverse consequences on the growth of employment opportunities for the youth of all communities, should be effectively impressed on the younger generation through the education system

No viable alternative to hanging, Centre tells court

Image source


Mains Paper 2: Polity | Structure, organization & functioning of the Executive & the Judiciary

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Lethal injections, Deena versus Union of India case, Bachan Singh case, Section 354 (5) of the Code of Criminal Procedure

Mains level: Capital Punishment and issues related to it


SC seeks less painful means of execution

  1. The Centre told the Supreme Court that there is no viable method at present other than hanging to execute condemned prisoners
  2. Lethal injections are unworkable and often fail
  3. The government was responding to a query from the court on alternative modes of execution

SC view on hanging of convicts

  1. The court had previously said a condemned convict should die in peace and not in pain
  2. A human being is entitled to dignity even in death
  3. The court had asked the government to consider the “dynamic progress” made in modern science to adopt painless methods of causing death

Is death penalty unconstitutional?

  1. The court has already clarified that it is not questioning the constitutionality of death penalty
  2. It has been well-settled by the apex court, including in Deena versus Union of India and earlier in the Bachan Singh case reported in 1980
  3. Section 354 (5), which mandates death by hanging, of the Code of Criminal Procedure, has already been upheld

Lethal injections an alternative?

  1. Death by lethal injection is practised in the U.S., China, Thailand, Vietnam and few other countries
  2. The Law Commission of India had recommended lethal injection for death penalty

[op-ed snap] Standing up for human rights

Image Source


Mains Paper 2: Governance | Welfare schemes for vulnerable sections of the population by the Centre and States and the performance of these schemes; mechanisms, laws, institutions and Bodies constituted for the protection and betterment of these vulnerable sections.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Particulars of the Anti-torture law

Mains level: Complement this newscard with one(attached below) of our previous newcards on the same issue. The law is much needed in the current situation where there is a huge focus on Human Rights values.


India must hasten to bring in an anti-torture law

  1. This is because the torture of individuals in state custody remains a brazen human rights abuse that mocks our governance
  2. In our approach towards eliminating torture as an affront to human dignity, we have been caught between legislative apathy and judicial abdication
  3. The necessity to move the SC arose because even years after India became a signatory to the Convention Against Torture in 1997
  4. But we have not been able to ratify it or have in place a domestic legislation to effectuate the right to life with dignity read into Article 21 of the Constitution

Imperviousness of the SC

  1. Can’t force govt. to frame anti-torture law: SC
  2. And this is despite the 2010 recommendation of the Select Committee of the Rajya Sabha supported by the National Human Rights Commission, the Law Commission of India and repeated assurances given on behalf of the Indian government at the UN Universal Periodic Review(in favor of the law)
  3. The court remained impervious to its own jurisprudence expounded in Puttaswamy and NALSA (2014)
  4. In the precedent the court said that “unless there is a manifest intent expressed to the contrary, domestic laws should be aligned with the international legal regime on the subject”
  5. It seemed legitimate to expect the highest constitutional court to inspire legislation that would vindicate the ethic of human rights as it has done so often in the past

How is it affecting India’s reputation?

  1.  Those facing criminal trials and extradition proceedings abroad including Abu Salem, Kim Davy, Jagtar Singh Johal and others have questioned the country’s investigative and criminal justice system
  2. in the absence of an effective and enforceable law against custodial torture

Government’s view on the law

  1. According to government’s representatives, it is seriously considering the October 2017 recommendation of the Law Commission in support of a standalone anti-torture law
  2. Parliamentarians who are privileged to represent the concerns of the people must keep faith and ensure the passage of a humanitarian law

[op-ed snap] Stand up against torture

Image Source


Mains Paper 2: Governance | Citizens charters, transparency & accountability and institutional and other measures

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Not much

Mains level: The convention is related to Human Rights and it is a hot topic of discussion these days.


Background of the Convention Against Torture (CAT)

  1. CAT came into force in 1987 and India signed it in 1997
  2. Today, the CAT has 162 state parties; 83 are signatories
  3. In refusing to ratify the CAT, India is in the inglorious company of Angola, the Bahamas, Brunei, Gambia, Haiti, Palau, and Sudan

Delaying the ratification

  1. In 2011, desiring to be appointed on the HRC of the UN, India took the extraordinary step of voluntarily “pledging” to ratify the CAT
  2. In the 2012 review, once again countries overwhelmingly recommended that India “promptly” ratify the CAT
  3. Again this year, at the universal periodical review, India reiterated “its commitment to ratify the CAT”
  4. India has been making promises but doesn’t seem intent on keeping them

SC’s comment on alleged torture by the Police

  1. Torture cases have escalated in India
  2. The Supreme Court said it was “deeply disturbed by the diabolical recurrence of police torture”
  3. Also, it said that said that “torture is assuming alarming proportions… on account of the devilish devices adopted”

The Prevention of Torture Bill, 2010

  1.  It was an excellent attempt by Parliament to draft new legislation
  2. Unlike Indian law, which focusses on murder and broken bones (grievous hurt), torture was expanded to include
    (i) food deprivation,
    (ii) forcible feeding,
    (iii) sleep deprivation,
    (iv) sound bombardment,
    (v) electric shocks,
    (vi) cigarette burning, and other forms
  3. The Indian police force uses these techniques
  4. The Select Committee noted that an overwhelming number of States and Union Territories were in favour of the Bill
  5. But Bill was allowed to lapse

PIL on the issue

  1. A petition was then filed in the Supreme Court in 2016, seeking a direction to the Union government to ratify the CAT
  2. Despite its numerous promises to the UN bodies, the government opposed the petition saying that the Law Commission of India was considering the issue

Undermining India’s Prestige

  1. In showing the world that India has no intention of combating the issues related to its own forces
  2. And of implementing its promises made to the UN, the government has undermined India’s prestige
  3. To be a world power, India must act like one

:( We are working on most probable questions. Do check back this section.

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