One of the most important contributions to the practical and ground reality of the organized crime gets a well-structured portrayal in a recent book. Umeed- an analysis of 50 convictions in sex trafficking cases published by the International Justice Mission (IJM), Kolkata is a novel initiative towards documentation of the second largest illegal trade and fast growing organized crime. The book is celebrating the evolution of the human trafficking jurisprudence in the State of West Bengal that is a source, transit and destination for trafficking having geographical connectivity. The intra and inter country trafficking has been very clearly detailed out in the compilation. What it offers are inspiring stories of successful convictions of this complex organized crime chain. with various reasoned parameters that aim at culling out the true picture of human trafficking and the response of the stakeholders of the state of West Bengal. Apart from the factual analysis of each of the 23 cases, the legal points that it offers are almost the summation of the entire criminal justice administration that are instrumental in prosecuting such offenders. Starting from readiness of the police and their efficiency to the delay caused by lax attitude or complications in cracking the organized crime have been interestingly worked upon. With ample photographs, charts and opinions of judges and public prosecutors associated in these 23 cased the images come out lively and give the book the needed personal touch reaching out to the readers.
Dedicating the book to the courage of the survivors whose determination has been instrumental in making this book, the authors have succinctly through the analysis put across the evolution of patterns and numbers of convictions in the state. With each passing year, the number of cases filed, convictions ordered and compensation granted have increased as shown in this research. The authors have expressly appreciated the efforts of all the stakeholders involved in developing the series of precedents available now in the state that accumulates for a large portion of the organized crime in the country.
The book has scrutinized seven different parameters that points at:
- the trafficking methodology implemented by the traffickers like allurement with false promises of jobs or marriage or outings;
- the victims who were rescued comprising of both majors and minors who were primarily unmarried and considerable proportion of them were Indians with 36% being foreigners;
- the perpetrators who mainly operated in private spaces like hotels, flats and other residences apart from red light areas (40%) and were significantly males with 31% being females as well;
- the law enforcement agencies that were involved in these cases were either the Detective Department, Kolkata Police or the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) or the District Police who had mostly submitted the charge-sheets within 90 days. But, in the fifty successful convictions the majority (52%) came from investigations of CID;
- the judicial intervention that primarily involved framing of charges, granting bails (35%) or in-custody trials (65%), conviction of the persons charged (57%) and finally victim compensation ordered by Court (39%) as also under the Victim Compensation Scheme of 2012 (31%). It also recorded the acquittals and the grounds under which such were awarded;
- the conviction and sentencing whereby 38% of those convicted have been found to have ordered for punishment for more than 10 years and the developing trend in stricter convictions and the legislations used for convictions and
- the duration of the trials portraying the relation between the timely delivery of judgement with proper submission of chargesheets and the effectiveness of each investigating office in ensuring quick dispensation of cases.
The book concludes by providing comprehensive summary of each of the 23 cases that have led to the fifty cases being celebrated in the book. It also provides expertise opinions in how the criminal administration system could be made robust and adaptive with video-conferencing facilities, effectuating the victim compensation scheme, extending punishments to customers, promulgating standard operating procedure for adoption and the like to deal with one of the only "organized" crimes impacting lives of many.
(Author is a PhD. Scholar and Research Assistant at The West Bengal National University of Juridical Sciences, Kolkata)