Human trafficking: HC seeks govt’s reply on plea alleging non-registration of placement agencies

New Delhi, May 11  The Delhi High Court today sought the response of the Delhi government on a plea seeking initiation of contempt proceedings against labour department officials for allegedly failing to comply with the court’s direction to register private placement agencies to check human trafficking.

Justice V Kameswar Rao asked the Delhi government to file a compliance report and granted it eight weeks time while listing the matter for September 5.

The court was hearing the contempt petition by NGO Bachpan Bachao Andolan alleging that there was a “complete wilful disobedience and non-compliance” of the court’s September 30, 2014 order for regulating the functioning of placement agencies.

Advocate Prabhsahay Kaur, appearing for the NGO, contended that he contempt plea had been filed because the labour department had completely failed in implementing the executive order of September 25, 2014 for compulsory registration of private placement agencies providing domestic workers.

The government had earlier said that all such unregistered firms would have to shut down after October 25, 2014.

Delhi government standing counsel Ramesh Singh told the bench the government was not treating the petition as an adversarial litigation, and they would place the bill regarding the issue before the legislative assembly in eight weeks.

The high court had in its 2014 order, after taking note of the government’s submission, asked it to implement the executive order passed on September 25, 2014 at the earliest.

It had directed the government to follow its instructions in letter and spirit to check the problem of trafficking of girls.

The NGO said in its plea that it seemed the executive order was passed by the government in an attempt to hoodwink the court in closing the proceedings before it and was only intended to remain on paper.

“The non-compliance by the Delhi government is completely in the face of the human trafficking lobby that is increasing on an unprecedented scale under the comfortable and safe swaddle of unregulated placement agencies,” it alleged.

It claimed that non-implementation of the earlier directions of the court and the executive order of the government was fuelling a business that thrives on human trafficking by unregulated placement agencies across the national capital.

“In the absence of a regulating framework, which acts as a deterrent, placement agencies specifically employ children because they are cheaper to employ and can be easily exploited. Consequently, the phenomenon of trafficking has spread its fangs far and wide into our system, affecting the most vulnerable members of our society i.e. children and women.

“Being unregistered, these placement agencies are outside the net of the authorities concerned and hence, are not answerable to anyone unless apprehended,” the plea said.

The NGO has sought directions to the secretary-cum-labour commissioner and chief inspector, shops and establishments of the government, to compulsorily register all placement agencies within eight weeks, and take action against the unregistered ones.

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