Mumbai Local

Bangladeshi trafficking victim deposes through videoconferencing

Setting a legal precedent, an international victim of human trafficking on Saturday deposed before an Indian court for the first time, and recorded her statements through videoconferencing.

The 24-year-old woman from Bangladesh had come to Mumbai in May 2014 with her husband. After arriving at CST, the husband took her to a lodge in Kamathipura, Asia’s second-largest red light district.

After spending the night together, she woke up in a room full of men and did not find her husband anywhere. On questioning them, she learnt her husband had sold her off to them. Crying and screaming for help, she was rescued by the women from the lodge, who took her to Navjeevan Centre, a shelter home for victims of human trafficking.

On finding her husband, the Nagpada police filed a complaint against him and booked him under Section 370 (buying or disposing of any person as a slave) and 34 (acts done by several persons in furtherance of common intention) of Indian Penal Code and Section 5 (procuring, inducing or taking persons for the sake of prostitution) of Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act.

She was repatriated to Bangladesh with the help of Rights Jessore, a human rights organisation in that country.

In pursuance with an order passed by a division bench of Chief Justice of Mohit Shah of the Bombay High Court in 2014, the Registrar was directed to issue a circular stating that statements of all victims of human trafficking should be recorded within six months of filing of the chargesheet.

The public prosecutor got in touch with NGO International Justice Mission, which in turn got in touch with Rights Jessore and assisted the court in arranging for a video conference.

A lawyer and a translator were arranged for the victim and, she was examined and cross-examined through videoconferencing before Special Judge Anju Shende at the City Civil and Sessions Court on Saturday. While her husband is in jail, she is back home with her family and the investigating officer and other officers in the case will depose before the court in due course of time.

What it means for other such victims?

Sanjay Macwan, field officer Mumbai of ICJ said, “It is very satisfying to see that this videoconferencing got through. Anti-trafficking organisations, the police and the prosecutors are happy to see that two governments and administrations have co-ordinated and ensured that the victim could testify.”

Appearing for several victims of human trafficking, Advocate Ramana, said, “It is good news for all victims of human trafficking. There are so many of them from Nepal and Bangladesh, who were repatriated after an inquiry. The facility of video conferencing will go a long way in delivering justice.”

Maharukh Adenwala, an advocate, said, “It proves to be very convenient not just for the victim, but also the investigating agency as in most cases, it may not be possible for the victim to return to depose before our courts.”

A public prosecutor, who commonly appears for the State and State machinery in such cases, under the condition of anonymity, said, “The SC notified the facility of video conferencing many years ago. But the local courts have recently started using technology for conducting trials. Recording of the statement of an international victim through this facility will mean a lot, as till now we were only focussing on gangsters and criminals.”

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Printable version | Aug 5, 2021 12:29:09 AM |

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