NHRC Chairperson, Mr. Justice H.L. Dattu to inaugurate two day National Seminar on Bonded Labour in New Delhi on 14th February, 2017 (13.02.2017)

New Delhi, 13th February, 2017
The National Human Rights Commission is organising two days National Seminar on 'Bonded Labour' on the 14th - 15th February, 2017 at Auditorium, Nehru Memorial Museum & Library, Teen Murti Bhawan, Chanakyapuri, New Delhi. The National seminar on bonded labour follows regional workshops on the subject held by the Commission in various parts of the country. Mr. Justice H.L. Dattu, Chairperson, NHRC will inaugurate it. Mr. Bandaru Dattatreya, Union Minister of State (Independent Charge), Ministry of Labour & Employment will be the Chief Guest.

The seminar is divided into three thematic sessions, which will be chaired by Mr. Justice D. Murugesan, Member, NHRC. These will cover various aspects related to the prevalence of bonded labour and challenges in its elimination, relief and rehabilitation of the rescued bonded labourers in different parts of the country as well as international best practices on sustainable human development and bonded labour.

These will be addressed, among others, by eminent speakers including those from International Labour Organisation (ILO), United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), experts, representatives of Centre and State Governments, civil society, NGOs, NHRC officers and Special Rapporteurs as well as the representatives of State Human Rights Commissions.

Experience of the Commission:

The Commission has been receiving spate of complaints from time to time regarding exploitation and harassment of persons who have been victims of bonded labour system some of these complaints related to non-payment of wages or payment of wages lower than notified minimum wages, long working hours indecent behaviour with women folk accompanied interstate migrant labourers living likes slaves maximum number of complaints pertain to labourers employed in brick kilns and stone quarries.

In almost all cases, the DMs rest content by filing a prosecution for non-maintenance of records and registers. The Bonded Labour System (Abolition) Act, does not permit any compounding of the offence or reaching a compromise between the bonded labour keeper and the bonded labourer. The action and conduct of DMs in a large number of cases would amount to abatement of an offence as defined in Section 20 of the Act. The DMs are, however, not sufficiently aware of the provisions of the law (including case laws) and have treated the entire issue rather casually and half heartedly.

In most cases of bonded labour, there is no clear, authentic and proof of settlement of wages and related accounts has been presented. Vigilance Committees at the district and sub-divisional level are not being re-constituted after expiry of two years. There is no simultaneity in release and rehabilitation of freed bonded labourers and repeatedly emphasize by the Supreme Court. There is no institutional mechanism for ventilation and redressal of grievances of freed bonded labourers.