In the last issue, we had taken up the subject of the enactment of two landmark laws in the state of Punjab, and how it is a right step in resolving problems faced by the Punjabi diaspora community. In this issue, we continue this and will in future as well, bring you a series of reports on the legal framework in the state. While we focused on the Punjab Compulsory Registration of Marriages Act 2012 in the last issue, we bring you highlights of the Punjab Prevention of Human Smuggling Act 2012 in this issue. As mentioned earlier, this new law too seeks to set a milestone in equitable justice, and makes Punjab one of the first states in the country to enact a human trafficking legislation to provide for the regulation of the travel trade, under the garb and guise of which some unscrupulous elements are even today indulging in illicit and/or fraudulent activities.

HIGHLIGHTS OF THE PUNJAB PREVENTION OF HUMAN SMUGGLING ACT, 2012

The Punjab Prevention of Human Smuggling Act, 2012, which was passed by the state Assembly on 21-12-2012 and implemented upon Notification in the Punjab Government Gazette on 20-08-2013, is now a law that provides for the regulation of the travel trade, with an explicit view to check and curb illegal, fraudulent activities, and malpractices involved in organized human smuggling and for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto. This law has nine noteworthy features.

1. Travel agent is defined as a person in a profession that involves arranging, managing or conducting affairs related to sending people abroad.

2. The words “travel agent” and “human smuggling” in the Punjab Act, find definition in the following words:

HIGHLIGHTS OF THE EMIGRATION ACT, 1983

The Emigration Act, 1983, provides for checks, controls, balances by enacting a licensing regime for “recruiting agents,” for “emigration” purposes which find definition in the following words in the said Act.

PUNJAB PREVENTION OF HUMAN SMUGGLING RULES, 2013: KEY HIGHLIGHTS

Punjab Prevention of Human Smuggling Rules, 2013 for regulating the trade of travel agencies or consultancies and ticketing agents were notified on August 20, 2013 and provide for a licensing regime through notified competent authorities.

By notification dated September 3, 2013, District Magistrates/Additional District Magistrates of each district have been designated as the “Competent Authority” for issuing a licence to undertake the profession of a travel agent.

Applications for licences to be accompanied by fee of Rupees one lac for agents in existence for more than years, Rs.25,000 for less than five years and Rs.25,000 for ticketing agents. Records in electronic form and soft copies to be kept by agents.

Residence certificates, proof of age, identity, passport, PAN card, Income Tax Returns, bank statements, satisfaction of credibility and no criminal record to accompany applications. For NRI agents, social security number, permission of foreign country of operations and RBI sanction additionally to be furnished.

Applicants must not be insolvent or bankrupt, should have no involvement in crimes as per police records, should not hold office of profit, should not be barred by Agents Associations, must have adequate space or accommodation and must maintain records and fee charged by them to be furnished to State Government.

Licences to be issued for five years, renewable upon furnishing Income Tax Return and Statement of Bank Accounts. Refusal to grant or renew license appealable to Government. All activities of agents to be monitored under the new rules.

All illegally acquired property to be confiscated upon trial of offences under the law

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