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Human Trafficking is the illegal transportation of human beings from one place to another against their will or by use of force or by luring them in under a misconception. It is aimed at the use of a class of persons for forced labour, sexual exploitation and many other activities that benefit in economic terms. It is considered a social problem as it violates the human rights granted to citizens of every nation, it also adds to global health problems, and the organized crime rate. The Act itself is of such heinous nature that it was called ‘Flesh Trade’1. Victims of human trafficking may suffer for a longer duration of time. The Act itself puts a big question mark on the security of countries.



Article 23: Provides that trafficking in human beings, the begar and other forms of forced labour are debarred by the Indian Constitution under this Article and if someone violates this law, he/she shall be punishable by law. The only exception to this rule is that the state can impose obligatory service on its citizens without making any discrimination on grounds of race, caste, religion, class, or gender.

As per the case of People’s Union for Democratic Rights v. Union of India2, the term forced labour was defined by the court as ‘the labour that one performs against his/her will or the job he/she is doing is not paying the minimum wage to the worker’. The state is bound to protect citizens from heinous offences like this by taking immediate and effective action against it and under Article 35 of the Indian Constitution, the Parliament has the authority to make laws that punish the offender of Article 23. Acts like the Suppression of Immoral Traffic in Women and Girls Act, 1956 and the Abolition of Bonded Labour System Act, 1956.

Article 24: It forbids children below the age of 14 years to be employed in any factory or mine or any other hazardous arrangement for employment. Whereas, employment in non-hazardous industries is permissible.

In pursuance to provide protection under this article, certain Acts were passed by the Government of India:

The Factories Act, 1948: First act to be passed after independence to define the minimum age limit for children who work in factories i.e., 14 years. Later, amended and provided the minimum age of work as 17 years at night.

The Mines Act, 1952: Forbids the employment of children below the age of 18 years in mines.

Bonded Labour System (Abolition) Act, 1976: This act provides for the protection of weaker sections of society economically and physically. Providing the punishment for those who are involved in acts of bonded labour. The government provides compensation to the victims of bonded labour and rehabilitation3.

The Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act, 1986: This act provides a detailed view of places where children are allowed to work and where not. This act provides a list of 13 places and 57 processes where children are not allowed to work. 

Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Amendment Act, 2016: This act prohibits the employment of persons who have not completed the age of 14 years. Also, a complete ban on persons between the age of 14 and 18 years working in hazardous factories.

Child Labour (Prohibition and Protection) Amendment Rules, 2017: This provides an overview of prevention, protection, rescue, and rehabilitation of children and adolescent workers and also provides fixed working hours and other environment-friendly conditions for working.


Section 3: Provides punishment to a person responsible for having a brothel or renting someone a place to be used as a brothel.

Section 4: Punishment for those who are above the age of 18 years and living on the allowances that come through someone being a prostitute.

Section 5: Punishing those who are involved in inciting a person for the sake of prostitution.

Section 6: It punishes the one who detains another person with or without their consent to any brothel or any place that is for prostitution with having an intention that the person who is detained is to have sexual intercourse with any person who is supposedly the spouse of the detained person.

Section 7: Any person who carries out prostitution or the other person with whom the prostitution is carried out is in the proximity of public places including hospitals, clinics, hostels, education institutes, or in any other area i.e., mentioned in provisions of this act is punishable with a term of imprisonment of 3 months.  

Section 8: Luring someone for the purpose of prostitution in first conviction punishable with imprisonment of 6 months and a fine up to Rs. 500. In case of second conviction imprisonment of a year inclusive of fine of Rs. 500.

Section 18: Magistrate has the power to order the immediate closing of a location used as a brothel and located within 200 Meters radar to any public place. The owner is only given 7 days to evict from such a place.

Section 20: Magistrate has the power to order any person who is in the profession of prostitution and residing in any area within the jurisdiction of the concerned Magistrate to be present before the court and show cause why he should be allowed to continue to live in that area.

Section 21: State government may direct and establish enough protective homes and corrective institutions and their maintenance as mentioned under this act. If the procedure is not followed as mentioned in the act, may be liable for punishment.

Section 22A: If the State government believes that cases related to offences mentioned in this act should be decided through speedy trial, it may along with consultation of the state High Court may establish more courts for Judicial Magistrate First Class or Metropolitan Magistrate in any such area.

Section 22B: Irrespective of anything that is mentioned in CrPC state government has authority to direct the trial of any offence mentioned under this act shall be done in a summary way by the magistrate.

Supreme Court passed an order in the case of Gaurav Jain v. Union of India3 that a committee must be constituted for an in-depth study of problems faced by prostitutes, child prostitution, and children of prostitutes and help them through suitable schemes that help in their rehabilitation in society.


Section 360: Whosoever he/she may take any person beyond the premises of India without his consent or any other person who is authorized to give consent on behalf of that person is called an offence of kidnapping a person from India.

Section 361: Whoever lures or takes a minor i.e., under the age of 16 years for males and under the age of 18 years for females or any other person who is incapable of giving his consent is stated as kidnap a person from the custody of his lawful guardianship.

Section 362: Any person who got trafficked is also a victim of abduction as the person was forced to move from a place of his/her choice.

Section 363A: Prescribes the punishment for those who kidnap and cripple a person of minor age for purpose of begging.

Section 366A: Provides punishment for any person who entices any minor girl to move from one place to any other place where she may be forced to have sexual intercourse with another person.

Section 370: Punishment for the persons who are involved in the trafficking of human beings and in any other acts related to human trafficking.

Section 372: If any person who sells disposes of, or lets her be hired for the purpose of prostitution any person who is below the age of 18 years shall be liable for imprisonment for up to 10 years with a fine.

Section 373: If any person buys, obtains, or hires any person who is below the age of 18 years shall be liable for imprisonment for up to 10 years with a fine.


The Ministry of Home Affairs of India has introduced a scheme ‘Strengthening Law Enforcement Response in India Against Trafficking’ under the scheme 330 Anti Human Trafficking Units will be established throughout the country and training would be given to up to 10,000 police officers. Funds as the first instalment for the same were released by the government in the year 2010-2011 to all state governments. Around 85 units have already been established all over India.

Ministry of Women and Child Development provides a scheme called ‘Ujjawala’ that provides for measures to be taken for preventing human trafficking, rescue, and rehabilitation of the victims. With the help of funds granted for scheme 101 centres that provide for rehabilitation and can be home to 4056 victims.4


Supreme Court claimed that when a child is given in adoption, he/she must be treated well and great care must be taken especially in cases of inter-country adoption so that the child must have moral security and must not end up being a product of sale and purchase for the foreign parents5. Even after the implementation of many schemes by the government of India still records more than 5,000 registered cases of human trafficking for a year and India comes under Tier 2 in the index of human trafficking meaning a moderate level of crime. While some people do not even register FIR for the offence due to lower rates of successful conviction in the cases.


  1. Vishal Jeet v. Union of India 1990 AIR 1412.
  2. 1982 3 SCC 235.
  3. 1997 8 SCC 114.
  4. Bandhua Mukti Morcha v. Union of India, 1984 AIR 802.
  5. Laxmi Kant Pandey v. Union of India, 1984 2 SCC 244.

This article is written by Simran Gulia currently pursuing a BA LLB from Maharaja Agrasen Institute of Management Studies.

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