Guidelines to identify and check the practice of bonded labour in India: SC

The Supreme Court of India has ordered as per below in an attempt to identify and check the practice of bonded labour in India and to rehabilitate those who are victims of this practice: –
(1) Fresh surveys be conducted periodically once in three years in all the States/UTs in accordance with the provisions of the Act and the revised report, the findings of the survey should be made a part of a computerized data base available on the websites of all concerned.
(2) The responsibility of conducting the surveys is on the District Level Vigilance Committees and Sub Divisional Vigilance Committees of the States/UTs and such committees should submit their reports to the NHRC. This should be done in every three years and Committees also should be reconstituted in every three years.
(3) Bonded labour, it may be noticed, is rampant in brick kilns, stone quarries, crushing mines, beedi manufacturing, carpet weaving, construction industries, agriculture, in rural and urban unorganized and informal sector, power looms and cotton handlooms, fish processing etc. The Vigilance Committees are directed to give more attention to these areas and take prompt action in case violation is noticed.
(4) Large numbers of children are working as domestic help in the urban, town and rural areas with no chance to go to schools even though the education from standard I to VIII is compulsory under the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act, 2009. Local Panchayats and local bodies should identify such children and ensure that they get proper education. We are not unmindful of the fact that in some households they treat the domestic help just like their children and give food, clothing and education but they are exception.
(5) Many of the States/UTs reporting NIL status with respect to existence of Bonded labourers. This might be due to the faulty methodology adopted by them for conducting such surveys. Guidelines on the methodology of identification of bonded labourers formulated by Shri SR Shankaran, Chairman of the Expert Group constituted by the NHRC be followed and implemented by all the States/UTs with suitable modifications to suit local conditions.
(6) All the States/UTs should calculate firm requirements of fund for rehabilitation of freed bonded labourers and steps be taken to enhance the rehabilitation package from the present limit of Rs.20,000.
(7) The District Magistrates are directed to effectively implement Sections 10, 11 and 12 of the Act and we expect them to discharge their functions with due diligence, with empathy and sensitivity, taking note of the fact that the Act is a welfare legislation.
(8) The District Magistrate and the State Government / UTs would see that the Minimum Wages Act, the Workmen Compensation Act, the Inter- State Migrant Workmen Act, Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act are also properly and effectively implemented.
(9) Directions are issued to all Gram Panchayats, local bodies to report, in case they come across any case of bonded labour, to the District Magistrate who will take appropriate follow up action under the Act.
(10) The States of Andhra Pradesh, West Bengal, Jharkhand, Bihar and the NCT of Delhi are directed to ensure compliance with orders passed by the NHRC as highlighted in its revised report.
(11) The States and the Union Territories should continue to submit 6 monthly reports to NHRC.
(12) All the States / UTs to constitute Vigilance Committee, if not already constituted within six months.

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