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International Family Law

The leading authority on international family law

22 MAY 2012

India - Human Smuggling Bill – an act in waiting

Anil Malhotra

The Pravasi Bhartiya Divas (PBD) could have been an ideal platform for an important and significant agenda. Human smuggling from Punjab to El Derado spins fortunes for merchants of death who smuggle human merchandise. Sad but true, no law defines it and none punishes it. We rest, happy and in bliss without even talking about it, leaving it to fate and to the almighty to take care of this deadly virus.

Upon a suo-moto initiative by the Punjab and Haryana High Court in a court of its own motion petition based on a Tribune newspaper report dated 12 January 2006, highlighting the plight of Punjabi youth stranded in Iraq, and subsequent court directions, Punjab was the first State in the country to enact a Human Smuggling law but now it seems to be dragging its feet to actually enforce and implement it. The Punjab Vidhan Sabha passed the Punjab Prevention of Human Smuggling Bill 2010, in its sitting held on 1 October 2010. In another recent Public Interest Litigation Petition at the High Court, it was reportedly stated that the said Bill was thereafter reserved by the Governor of Punjab for consideration and for assent of the President of India under Art 254(2) of the Constitution of India, which provides that if there is an inconsistency between laws made by Parliament and laws made by a State Legislature, such law shall prevail in the State only upon Presidential assent. Since then, the said Human Smuggling Bill was upon this reference doing bureaucratic rounds with various Central Government Ministries and now upon the comments of the Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs, it has been returned to the Government of Punjab. Reportedly, the Human Smuggling Law in waiting will again be further processed in New Delhi upon answers provided by Punjab Government. Till then, the dilemma continues.

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