Mumbai: On 25 July 2017, the conviction of the two accused by Additional Sessions Judge, Mr. MB Datye of Churchgate Sessions Court marked the 100th & 101st convictions in sex trafficking cases in Mumbai which were achieved through collaborative casework of the Public Justice System (PJS) and International Justice Mission (IJM). The 101 convictions have been achieved through 46 cases that were adjudicated by Magistrates and Judges from The Court of Sessions at Greater Mumbai, Sewri, Dindoshi and Thane, and the Special Court for The Immoral Traffic Prevention Act. The Sessions Court at Greater Mumbai, is reported to have meted out 41 convictions between 2002-2015, of these 28 have been through the collaborative casework method, making it 68% of the convictions in thirteen years!
The first of these convictions dates back to 18 December 2002, where Judge S.B Gaikwad of the Sessions Court at Greater Mumbai, convicted a female trafficker for offences under sections 366A and 372 of the Indian Penal Code and sections 5 and 9 of the ITPA. Most of the cases were initiated through a police rescue under section 15 of the ITPA, in the presence of credible independent witnesses and led by a Special Police Officer. The journey to justice has not been swift, as most of the trials have concluded in an average of 3-4 years after the rescue; one of the cases was in trial before the Additional Judge at the Sessions Court of Greater Mumbai for seven years.
“Sessions Courts Judges being able to hear all ITPA cases allows more stakeholders to be exposed to trafficking cases, helping them realize the gravity of the offenses and the urgency with which these cases need to be disposed,” says Advocate Cassandra Fernandes, who has represented complainants as a watching advocate for the past 12 years. Former DCP in Mumbai Police Pravin Patil believes, “The Mumbai Police is committed to bringing an end to the heinous crime of trafficking. We see convictions as a primary deterrent to the crime. The collaborative efforts of prosecution and police with NGOs have proved to be a successful method to make this possible.”
Expressing his satisfaction on 101st conviction Sanjay Macwan, Regional Director of IJM India said,” These 101 convictions are a victory for not only the victims of sex trafficking but also the Public Justice System, which includes law enforcement, courts and social services. Each conviction is a step towards ending impunity and clear sign of a system that works. IJM India shall continue to work together with government and the judiciary to build awareness on the issue and secure convictions in cases of sex trafficking and bonded labour”.