The Bombay High Court has asked both the state and Central Governments to provide the data about the number of anti-trafficking units set up in Maharashtra and the steps taken by the Government to ensure that the law is implemented both in its letter and spirit. February 17th was given as the deadline to both the governments to respond.
This step was taken after a division bench of Chief Justice Dipankar Dutta and Justice Girish Kulkarni on 27th January, heard public interest litigation (PIL) filed by an NGO named Rescue Foundation which was working towards rehabilitating victims of human trafficking.
Advocate Chetan Mali informed the Court that the PIL sought implementation of the amended Anti- Human Trafficking Law that though there was a law to set up Anti Human trafficking Units in every district the government had set up units in only 12 out of 36 districts.
The PIL sought directions to the authorities to set up Anti Human trafficking Units in every district and conduct an investigation of all cases of human trafficking for sexual exploitation in those units only.
The State Government had actually expressed its interest to coordinate with other states to strengthen inter-state relations in an earlier hearing. It wanted to strengthen inter-state cooperation on rescue, safe return, rehabilitation, reintegration of victims, transfer, and prosecution of offenders. The state further submitted that the state is in the process of setting up another 24 Anti Human trafficking Units in addition to the existing 12 Anti Human trafficking Units in Mumbai, Thane City, Thane Rural, Sangli, Pune, Ahmednagar, Nagpur, Solapur City, Navi Mumbai, Kolapur, Yavatmal and Beed to cover the remaining of Maharashtra.
When the status of the State Government’s proposal to the Centre was asked, Advocate DP Singh sought time to obtain instructions. The Advocate’s request was accepted by the state.
The State Government was asked to file an affidavit about the status of the 24 Anti Human trafficking Units being set up. The Central government was asked to inform the court about the status of the State Government’s proposal. The hearing of the PIL was further adjourned to February 17th.
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