The Supreme Court on Monday (June 8) issued notice to the Union government on a petition for framing guidelines to prevent child trafficking in the wake of lockdown imposed to contain COVID-19 pandemic.
A bench of Chief Justice S A Bobde and Justices A S Bopanna and Hrishikesh Roy sought a response from the National Disaster Management Authority and states on a PIL filed by NGO Bachpan Bachao Andolan.
The bench told senior advocate H S Phoolka, representing the petitioner, that trafficking was done primarily to use the child as cheap labour. Can every contractor be registered somewhere? The issue exists because there is a market for child labour, the bench said.
Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the Centre, said he would sit with Phoolka and collate suggestions to take effective measures.
The court put the matter for consideration after two weeks.
The petitioner claimed that traffickers have already become very active in various areas of the country and were tapping vulnerabilities of poor families by coercing and inducing them into selling their children for child labour and sexual exploitation.
"A targeted COVID-19 response in the form of formulating a policy can substantially decrease the trafficking the children. If proactive steps are taken, the impending humanitarian crisis in the aftermath of the ongoing global health crisis can be largely prevented," it said.