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New Emigration Bill In The Offing: EAM Jaishankar

The new legislation would promote safe and legal migrations and prevent frauds by agents

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New legislation, "the Emigration Bill, 2022" with the objective of promoting “safe and legal” migration and stopping illegal recruitment agents from duping people, is in the process of being tabled before Parliament. The Union ministry of external affairs has released a draft of the bill, the Centre told the Rajya Sabha on Thursday. 

“We are taking a number of steps to ensure that recruiting agents are not misusing their powers... We have also liberalised the entire RA (recruiting agents) scheme so that there are no locally-based recruiting agents,” said external affairs minister S Jaishankar while responding to a query on the scams committed by fake recruiting agents.

The Emigration Act of 1983 is sought to be replaced by the passing of the proposed legislation. It is being done to deal with contemporary global challenges in the emigration sector. The new legislation would make offences more stringent and would ensure compliance in a more effective way.

As per the provisions contained under the draft bill, which was released in the year 2021, the Centre shall establish a Bureau to be called the Bureau of Emigration Policy and Planning to formulate effective policies through periodic assessment. The said Bureau would undertake consultation with relevant stakeholders and carry out analysis with regard to emigration and allied matters.

The draft bill also envisages the appointment of a joint secretary level officer as the chief of emigration policy and planning. There would also be a chief emigration officer who shall head the administration of the bureau.

The draft further provides for the constitution of nodal committees in states and union territories for the implementation of the objectives.

The primary functions of the institutions established under the draft bill would be policy preparation and negotiating with stakeholders with the objective of creating a safe environment for emigrants. A digitised record shall also be maintained which would capture the details of Indian emigrants and also the blacklisted emigrants.

The draft bill prohibits the functioning of Human Resource Agencies except in accordance with being registered as a Company under the Companies Act, 2013 or a Limited Liability Partnership under the Limited Liability Partnership Act, 2008 or a partnership under the Indian Partnership Act, 1932. In case wherein an agency is found violating the provisions as per the draft bill or indulging in anything that harms the friendly relations of India with other countries, its license shall be revoked after being provided with an opportunity to be heard. The Competent Authority as per the draft has been vested with the powers of a civil court for such purposes.

The draft bill also casts an obligation upon the employers who wish to recruit emigrants to get accreditation from the competent authority for which procedure has been prescribed.

The draft bill further envisages the establishment of a labour and welfare wing to coordinate all issues related to Indian emigrants.

Punishments and penalties for furnishing of false information for obtaining a certificate or accreditation, indulging in illegal recruitment, disobedience to an order of the competent authority and trafficking of drugs and persons, have also been provided for. The offences have been made punishable with imprisonment for a term which shall not be less than three years but may extend to seven years or with a fine, which shall not be less than three lakh rupees but which may extend to five lakh rupees or with both.

All offences have been made cognisable as per the draft, which implies that police can make an arrest in case a complaint is made by the central government, competent authority, nodal committee or an emigrant.

The competent authority would also be conferred with the power to decide whether a person is an emigrant or not after appreciation of evidence and holding an inquiry.

The Bill will have to be tabled in the monsoon session before being passed and transformed into an Act.

Jaishankar also emphasised the implementation and usefulness of the e-Migrate (2015) system, which assists immigration officers to validate passport details when an emigrant arrives at the airport to travel abroad.

Besides the draft bill, S Jaishankar said that the central government is working with state governments and other stakeholders to spread awareness about safe and legal migration through its outreach programmes.