Bonded labour still prevails in India: NHRC

Despite the existence of Article 23 of the Constitution, section 374 of IPC and Bonded Labour System (Abolition) Act (BAL) of 1976, for combating bonded labour, "The practice continues even today with NHRC registering as many as 2,514 cases so far," its chairman Justice K G Balakrishnan said today.

Balakrishnan, speaking at a workshop on Bonded and Child Labour here, said that BAL, 1976, empowers district magistrates to take action against the persons encouraging bonded labour, and asked them, along with superintendents of police to come to the rescue of the poor who are facing similar fate.

"It is not enough for us to just sit back and reflect on importance of these issues," he said. The former Chief Justice of India also expressed concern over the practice of child labour. Orissa Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, who also addressed the workshop, admitted there were allegations of prevalence of bonded labour in different forms of customs and traditions like 'Bartan' and 'Goti'.

Patnaik said that certain pockets of the state were also prone to labour migration and there had been allegations of these labourers being harassed and victimised.
"In modern age and in democratic society, such practices are unacceptable," the chief minister said.

Patnaik said the state government was fully committed to address the issues with all sincerity.

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