Thursday, October 02, 2008

Uttar Pradesh: Plight of bonded labour and Negligence from administration

Uttar Pradesh: Plight of bonded labour and Negligence from administration

Manoj Kumar Pandey/Shruti Nagvanshi 2/10/2008 5:23:31 PM(IST)

PVCHR has taken initiative in a matter of bonded labour happening in Choubeypur, Varanasi and send the matter to National Human Rights Commission, New Delhi. National Human Rights Commission had registered the case in the case no. 38403/24/2995-2006/M-4 and inquired the matteer through Administration. The Administration showed only formality and did nothing but to take favour of owner. The inquiry was conducted by Sri D K Singh- Assistant Labour Commissioner, Varanasi and two Labour Enforcement Officer Sri Madhuban Ram and Kamalesh Kumar on M/s Shayam Brick Industry, village/post Amoulee, Police Station- Choubeypur, and Varanasi. Its employer is Namavar Yadav son of Ramadhar Yadav resident of village-Amoulee, Police Station-Chuobeypur, Varanasi. He was not present at the time of inquiry. They found no labours working there, whose name were mentioned in the complaint. Munshi Sri Surendra told that all mentioned labour had taken their wages and went their home at the time of Deepawali. The name he had told was as follows:

1. Sri Suresh son of Chandrama, 2. Sri Sitalu son of Munni Lal,3. Sri Jagdish son of Bhagawati, 4. Sri Bhagawati, 5. Sri Munnar, 6. Sri Kashi, 7. Sri Bahadur, 8. Sri Chotu, 9. Smt Kalawati wife of Jagdish, 10. Smt Lalti wife of Bhagwati, 11. Smt Guddi wife of Bahadur, 12. Smt Panchuei wife of Munnar, 13. Shachindra, 14. Smt Kashmiri wife of Chotu, 15. Smt Munni wife of Suresh, 16. Smt Mangari wife of Sitalu, 17. Smt Geeta devi wife of Kashi.

He was unable to tell the present location of those labours. He also told that all mentioned labours had received their wages in his presence. Due to absence of employer they could not inspect the payment receipt.

Other worker who employed recently were present at spot like, Mithai, Jawahir, Dhanesh, Pappu, Rangeeley, Lal Chandra, Sarju, Dharamveer, Suresh, Ramchandra, Amit, Mannu, Sabna Rambriksha, Nandu, Babulal, Karia, had been inquired. They told they had come there in the last week of Nomvber and they had no idea about those victim people.

The inquiry team found no evidence of bonded labour.

However, having seen the above report, it seems that the inquiry team has not done their work seriously. These reasons for this assumption are as follows:-

· The inquiry team asked only to Munsi Surendra and did not ask its employer who was the main informer. They did not take pain to contact to employer, nor did they give any further direction to him. The statement of munshi cannot be considered beyond the proper doubt whereas the possibility is that munshi Surendra will take the favour of employer.

· They did not inspect any document relating to victim labours from which they could find some reliable evidences about the payment of wages to victims. It is the official duty of Munshi to maintain register. The register is always in the possession of Munshi.

· Their report is based on some labour who did not know the victims and whose identity like their father’s name and residence have not been assured. How their statement can be taken in to consideration, if they have no idea about victims.

· They did not take pain to contact to victim labours, whose residence is not very far from place of occurrence and falling under the jurisdiction of Police Station - Choubeypur.

So the work which has been assign to the inquiry team is not performed by them and they did the work which was of no use. They must contact to employer, victims and inspect the register and other documentary record.

The summary of fact is that all the above mentioned 17 labours are the victim of bonded labour and they are exploited by their employer Namavar Yadav owner of brick klin industry. Three persons of Mushar Community named -1. Sri Suresh son of Chandrama, 2. Sri Sitalu son of Munni Lal, both were resident of village Mahasipur, police station Choubeypur, Varanasi and 3. Sri Jagdish son of Bhagawati resident of village Phoolpur, police station Choubeypur, Varanasi, came to the office of PVCHR, Varanasi, and made a complaint that the owner of brick kiln Namavar Yadav and his companion had made hostage to their family members and were beating them by tiding. Any how they managed to escape from their (owner of brick klin and his companion) capture. They (owner) had not given their (labours’) wages on pretext of loan. On one hand all the above mentioned labours were being deprived from their wages and on other hand they were being beaten by their employer. Any how they managed to save their lives after the intervention of PVCHR and AHRC.

However after the report and evidences given by PVCHR, Asian Human Right Commission (AHRC) had issued an urgent appeal on 24th February 2006, which the AHRC condemns the attitudes of Indian authorities towards these atrocious practices. The name of victims and perpetrators and place of incident had been mentioned clearly in this urgent appeal. It had been clearly mentioned in the urgent appeal that Suresh, Sitalu, Jagdish, were offered Rs 1000/ as cash loan by Savaru, Namuna, and Namvar for which they were asked to work at kiln to pay back their debts. They were also forced to bring their family to work at kiln. They were forced to work even if they ill. If they complained, they had been tied up and beaten. If someone tried to pay their debts by other means they were subjected to same treatment. They were never allowed to leave the kiln. They were paid Rs 100/ weekly for their food stay survival of family but it was not sufficient for repayment of their debts. It is alleged that owner of the kiln also sell families to the other kiln owner who are in need of labour.

The labour informed PVCHR that owner agreed to free them if they pay Rs 6000/ per person. PVCHR filed a complaint at Choubeypur police station and also with DM of Varanasi about the case on 19th February, 2006. However, on receipt of complaint, the police on pretext of raiding the kiln to arrest the owner and to free the people took in to custody Sachinder and Chotelal, who were being held under bonded labour. They were taken to the police station where the SO shouted at them, asking them why their colleagues had complained against the owner of the kiln. They were tourtured and threatened. They were released on 20th February, but only after having to pay Rs 250/ to Rs 1000/.

Dr lenin is the member of District Vigilance Committee on bonded labour established under Bonded Labour (Prohibition) Act, 1976 so PVCHR initiated the matter and took Sachinder to District Hospital, Varanasi the next day where the doctor examined him and has provided a medical report detailing his injuries. A complained along with medical report and a narration of fact was immediately faxed to National Human Right Commission. A second complaint and copy of the medical report was lodged to District Magistrate on 21st February, 2006. Yet another complaint was filed with the Senior Superintendent of Police on 22nd February.

The act of the above mentioned perpetrators are the offence under section 371, 374 of Indian Penal Code. As per section 371 if a person exports , imports sells, buys, traffic or deals in slave, he shall be punished with imprisonment for life or with imprisonment up to ten years and liable to pay fine. As per section 371 if a person compels any person to do labour against his will, he shall be punished with imprisonment up to one year or fine or both.

Supreme Court in Bandhua Mukti Morcha Vs Union of India (AIR 1984, SC 802) held that if a person has taken some amount in advance and he have to do labour to repay his debts, it will come under definition of bonded labour. The act of the police is the direct violation of the ruling given in Neeraja Choudhary Vs State Of Madhya Pradesh (Air 1984 Sc, 1103, 1104) in which it was held with majority that Magistrate or other higher will initiate the proceeding related with bonded labour and police or other below rank officer do not take initiation because they are considered to be hand in glove with owner and they ask the question whose answer tends against the labour , which is unconstitutional.

UP State Government should strive to eradicate bonded labour if it exists in any form because there is no scarcity of law to prevent bonded labour in India like Bonded Labour (Prohibition) Act, 1976, section 371,374 of Indian Penal Code. In spite of these statutes the Apex Court of India gives its direction from time to time on how to prevent slave like practices and bonded labour. However these statutes and direction are of no use in absence of proper implementation and implementation depends completely upon policing system. Illiteracy is another factor to influent adversely the implementation of this law. Our Apex Court held that article 21 of the constitution direct that Bonded Labour (Prohibition) Act, 1976 was passed to implement the Directive Principle of State Policy by taking in to account the basic needs of bonded labour. If the State fails to implement Bonded Labour (Prohibition) Act, 1976, it will be violation of article 21. Article 21 of the constitution passed this Act by abolishing bonded labour. It is the constitutional duty of under article 23 to welcome all the complaint related with bonded labour.

Taking above mentioned circumstances in to account PVCHR humbly requested to National Human Rights Commission to ask appropriate authority to do the needful urgently so that the victim of bounded labour may become free from the fear of perpetrators and they should be given proper relief along with compensation and their wages. PVCHR also quopted the decission given by Supreme Court in Neeraja Choudhary Vs State Of Madhya Pradesh (Air 1984 Sc, 1103, 1104) in which Justice Bhagwati held with majority that under the provision of Bonded Labour (Prohibition) Act, 1976 it is not only necessary to detect bonded labour and make them free but also their rehabilitation is more necessary because in lack of this they may become the victim of poverty and exploitation.