Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal, after a meeting with travel agents, agreed to make changes in the legislation, based on their suggestions, an official spokesman said.
Sukhbir has directed the principal secretary (Home) D S Bains to move an appropriate memorandum to the cabinet to amend the Prevention of Human Smuggling Act (PHSA), he said. The agents' associations had expressed apprehension that being licensees under the PHSA put them at a disadvantage where police could misuse Clause 10 of the Act, which provides them "power to search, seizure of conveyance, place and arrest of persons".
This, they feared, could be done by the police on frivolous complaints made by persons who are denied visa by the embassy concerned for no fault of the agents, the spokesman said.
The agents' delegation also stated that the very name of the legislation put them at a disadvantage when they applied to various embassies and universities to get visa for their customers/applicants. The associations also objected to the minimum three years punishment to convicts under Clause 13 of the Act, and, it has been agreed to annul this quantum of punishment so that the courts could decide on the imprisonment period that could extend up to seven years.