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Human trafficking: HC flays police inaction

Transporting people from Munambam

The Kerala High Court on Friday slammed the police for not charging the accused with the offence of human trafficking in a case relating to the transporting of a group of persons, including Sri Lankans and people from other States, from Munambam, near Kochi, on fishing boats.

Justice B. Sudheendra Kumar also wondered why the investigation was not handed over to some other competent agency if the police did not have sufficient infrastructure for conducting the probe into the case.

The court made the observation when the bail petitions of Ravi of south Delhi and Anil Kumar of Venganoor, two accused in the case, came up for hearing.

The court orally said that the allegations in the case were very serious.

It asked how could the police be sure that official secrets had not been leaked by the accused.

Conspiracy

The prosecution case was that petitioners and other accused persons had conspired each other to facilitate a group of about 70 people belonging to different States and Sri Lanka, to leave India without valid passports or travel documents and also alleged to have given them forged visas and passports, in the guise of originals.

The accused were slapped with the charges for the offences under the provisions of the Passport Act, Immigration Act, Foreigners Act, and sections 109 (abatement of an offence), section 468 (forgery for purpose of cheating), and 471 (use of forged documents as genuine) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).

The investigating officer had filed a report before the trial court stating that no offence under section 370 (human trafficking) had been made out, the prosecutor told the court.

The court then pointed out that it was not discernible how the Investigation Officer could file a statement that no offence under section 370 (human trafficking) could be invoked in the case without questioning the persons who had gone from Munambam by boats.

The court directed the investigating officer to file a statement explaining how he could file a report pointing that no offence under section 370 is attracted without even questioning the victims. The court also asked the investigation officer to furnish the date-wise investigation from the date of taking over the probe.

The court adjourned the hearing in the case to March 10.

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