The Anti-trafficking bill draft prepared by the Women and Child Development Ministry has been sent to the Cabinet for approval, a senior ministry official said, on 25 October.
The draft Trafficking of Persons (Prevention, Protection and Rehabilitation) Bill, 2016 proposes a National Anti-Trafficking Bureau for preventing and protecting cases of victims of trafficking.
It also provides for stricter punishment of up to life imprisonment for "aggravated" forms of trafficking. This category includes bonded labour, trafficking for the purpose of bearing a child, for marriage, for begging, or trafficking of a pregnant woman or resulting into pregnancy, among others.
There have been at least two rounds of inter-ministerial consultations on the proposed bill, apart from several meetings with NGOs before arriving at the final draft. The draft legislation was sent to the Cabinet last week. Minister for Women and Child Development Maneka Gandhi hopes to introduce the Bill in the Winter session of Parliament this year.
The Bill was first made public in May and invited a lot of criticism for being "vague" and "full of loopholes" following which it was revised.