Recently, it has been noticed that there has been an increase in organized human trafficking. Keeping this in place, the Punjab Prevention of Human Smuggling Bill 2010 was passed by the State Assembly. The bill would permit to regulate the activities of travel agents especially with reference to illegal activities in the state of Punjab. The Bill makes it compulsory for all the travel agents in the state to be granted a license from the relevant competent authority which would involve an office nominated by the State Government.
All the agents would now have to acquire a license within a maximum of sixty days from the date the bill would be implemented. However, the license would be cancelled incase the agent does not start his work within three months after he obtains his license. With this, the agents would be eligible for a license provided they have the basic qualification of matriculation or equivalent which they have obtained from a recognized university or institution. The competent authority would have to be informed in prior incase the agent plans to open a new office or a branch. The licenses of those people who have been convicted in the court would be cancelled.
The bill also makes it mandatory to take permission from the competent authority before actually advertising about a seminar to be conducted. This is being done to prevent the innocent young people from being targeted and lured into false promises.
More so, the bill also permits the search of the premises and the conveyance of the agent by a gazetted police office or even an executive magistrate. At the same time, this search should be completed within two months from the date of receiving this information. But the search could only be conducted by a sub-inspector or an officer of a higher rank. If found anything suspicious, they have the authority to arrest him.
The Bill targets those who indulge in illegal activities and wrong doings and tempting people to immigrate permanently, offering consultancy services for foreign education, work permits, cultural shows, sham marriages and other similar crimes.
The punishment for those convicted would be rigorous imprisonment ranging from a period of 3 to 10 years based on the nature of the crime committed. A compensation provision for the victims has also been stated.
The above bill can be considered as an important measure in controlling illegal migration. More so, many innocent victims could be saved from being victims of fraudulent activities.