Wednesday, Jul 16, 2003
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By Our Legal Correspondent
A Bench comprising Justice Ruma Pal and Justice P. Venkatarama Reddi issued notice to Haryana, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh and Uttaranchal after pursuing the Commission's report.
Amicus curiae A.K. Ganguly brought to the notice of the court that in its report of March 27, the Commission had stated that 11 of the 16 States from which reports were called for had not complied.
"The Commission notes with dismay that Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Jharkhand, Tamil Nadu, Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh have not bothered to give any reply till date," the report said.Further, it said that Kerala, Gujarat and Uttaranchal regularly asserted that the problem of bonded labour did not exist in their States.
Haryana and Rajasthan, which had sent reports earlier, had not been regular in giving the details.The report said "the existing scheme of the Ministry of Labour, Government of India, for providing rehabilitation of the released labourers in their native States or their host State, as per their choice, is fairly comprehensive and covers various aspects of rehabilitation". The Commission classified Bihar, Tamil Nadu, Chhattisgarh, Uttaranchal and Orissa as donor States since the highest number of bonded labour originated there. Punjab, Haryana, Gujarat and Maharashtra were categorised as recipient States where bonded labourers worked. The report said that even when complaints investigated by the Commission were found to be true, the District Magistrates were reluctant to treat the victims as bonded labourers.Neither the rehabilitation of the labourers was taken up nor prosecution launched against the offenders.
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