India ( New Delhi): Lok Sabha passes Criminal Law Amendment Bill, 2013
On 4th of February, 2013, the Government of India brought an ordinance to change the Indian Penal Code(IPC) providing stringent and wide ranging measures to protect women and children against trafficking, sexual exploitation. The ordinance, promulgated by the President, included stringent measures to punish those involved in trafficking of women and children. Bachpan Bachao Andolan(BBA), India’s largest movement against child labour and trafficking, hailed the government’s decision for a radical change in the IPC.
In a landmark step towards protection of victims of trafficking and slavery, especially women and children, the lower house of the Parliament of India (Lok Sabha) has passed the Criminal Law Amendment Bill, 2013 on 19th March 2013, making trafficking a specific criminal offence in the country. Once passed by the Upper house of Parliament (Rajya Sabha), the bill will replace the Criminal Law(Amendment) Ordinance which is due to expire on 4th April, 2013.
Soon after J.S. Verma Committee report was made public in January 2013, BBA led a campaign demanding inclusion of trafficking for all forms of exploitation in law and criminalizing trafficking, slavery, forced labour and other forms of sexual exploitation. In the campaign, BBA met over 50 Members of Parliament. These meetings also included suggestions provided in writing to the Chairperson and members of Parliamentary Standing Committee on Home Affairs, as well as to the leader of Opposition in Lok Sabha. BBA demanded in its written submissions as well as in its meetings with the MPs, a comprehensive legislation to deal with issues of child trafficking, missing children, sexual exploitation, slavery and employment of trafficked children.
Key features of the Criminal Law (Amendment) Bill 2013
The key features of the Criminal Law (Amendment) Bill 2013 passed in the Lok Sabha are as follows:
• The Criminal Law (Amendment) Bill 2013 was actually the Ordinance that was promulgated by the President of India on 3 February 2013.
• The bill seeks to make amendments in the Code of Criminal Procedure, Indian Penal Code, Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act as well as Indian Evidence Act.
• The bill states that offender could be given an imprisonment of not less than 20 years, extendable up to life term.
• The bill also includes provisions for death sentence for offenders who are convicted earlier for such crimes.
• This is for the first time that the bill described voyeurism and stalking as the non-bailable offences, in case repeated for the second time.
• Perpetrators of acid attacks would be sentenced for 10-year jail term.