Rejjina and Asma are two young women who have filed a Public Interest Litigation in Bombay High Court to highlight the Maharashtra police’s negligence when it comes to investigating and prosecuting traffickers who sell young women and children for prostitution purposes in Maharashtra.
Both the women were minors when they were trafficked from their native villages in West Bengal and sold to brothels in Maharashtra, where they were sexually exploited for commercial purposes. At the time of their rescue by the Maharashtra police from the brothels, a First Information Report (F.I.R) was registered but only against the brothel owner and/ or madam of the brothel. This registration of the FIR, selectively and only against the brothel owner resulted into no investigations being made for the arrest and prosecution of either of their traffickers in West Bengal.
Rejjina and Asma are only two the many stories in which minor girls are trafficked from West Bengal to various States, including Maharashtra. And despite there being legal provisions under the Code of Criminal Procedures, 1973 and Immoral Trafficking (Prevention) Act, 1956 to investigate cases of inter- state trafficking, the survivors till this date are awaiting arrest and prosecution of their traffickers from West Bengal, which is one of the source points of trafficking.
Taking their fight forward, both these young women filed this Public Interest Litigation in the month of June, 2017 , seeking proper investigation into cases of inter-state trafficking by Special Police Officers appointed under Section 13 (4) of ITPA and by the Anti Human Trafficking Units established in the State of Maharashtra.
This Public Interest Litigation filed against the State of Maharashtra and the Union of India is aimed to seek proper directives issued by the Court of law which would address the following loopholes in the current criminal justice system:
- 1) Non registration of FIRs under relevant section of the Indian Penal Code pertaining to Trafficking such as Section370 (Trafficking of Persons) and Section 372 (Selling of Minor for purposes of prostitution).
- 2) Failure of the State to appoint Special Police Officers under section 13(4) of Immoral Traffic Prevention Act and establish adequate Anti Human Trafficking Units.
- 3) Non implementation of the State’s obligation under the various international conventions, despite being a signatory to various international conventions (United Nations and SAARC).
- 4) No Memorandum of Understanding between Maharashtra and other States and Union Territories for co-operation in investigation and prosecution of interstate human trafficking cases.