Two years after rescue from bonded labour, children yet to receive justice, rehabilitation: Delhi HC issues notice

Nirmal Gorana v Govt of NCT of Delhi & Ors, WP (Crl) 1011/2018 | |

The petition informed the court that in 2016, two children had been rescued from working as bonded labourers in a factory in Delhi’s Moti Nagar. The boys said that they were forced to work in a fan production factory for two months, where they worked from 9 am to 7 pm every day, operating machines, helping in production and pasting stickers on fans. They were forced to complete making 150 units every day without wages, and were also stopped from going back to their homes in Bihar. They were allegedly beaten up the factory owner if they ever asked for wages or expressed their wish to go back home.

Police apathy

After being informed about the case, the petitioner filed an FIR, following which the police recorded the children’s statements where they identified their employers and detailed their exploitation. However, despite this, the state failed to make any efforts to arrest the accused, file a chargesheet or complete the investigation in the case. The boys were sent back to their homes in Bihar without being granted release certificates or any rehabilitation and compensation that they are entitled to under the Bonded Labour Rehabilitation Scheme, 2016.

Our petition

The petition noted that the inaction this was in violation of Articles 23 and 24 of the Constitution of India, as well as several statutory mandates in Acts such as the Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act, 2987, the Bonded Labour System (Abolition) Act, 1976, the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2010, among others. It sought the court’s direction to the respondents to act on the grievances.  

Court’s response

In response, the court asked the Commissioner of Police to file a status report on the FIRs in this case, and additionally, supply a list of all police cases related to bonded labour (especially, that of children) registered in the last five years. It also directed the government of the NCT of Delhi and the central government (through the ministry of labour) to file status reports detailing schemes made available to child labour, and their functioning.

In addition, the court directed the Member Secretary of the Delhi State Legal Services Authority to look into the matter and proceed in accordance with law.

 How you can help

Despite the abolition of the Zamindari system, implementation of legislation (Bonded Labour Abolition Act, 1976), establishment of Panchayati Raj, interest shown by Social Action Groups and spirited individuals from society, lakhs of bonded labourers continue to be exploited and carry the yoke of neglect, suffering and frustration in abject silence. According to the 2016 Global Slavery Index, India has the maximum number of slaves in the world. There are about 46 million people enslaved worldwide with more than 18 million of them in India.

We handle scores of similar cases each year, pushing for the rescue and rehabilitation of people working in bondage across the country. Please consider helping our efforts by spreading word of our initiative with your network.

You can also aid us financially by donating to our Bonded Labour initiative or contributing to our infrastructure.