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CURTAIN RAISER – National Seminar on ‘Elimination of Bonded Labour System’

The National Human Rights Commission is organizing a National Seminar on ‘Elimination of Bonded Labour System’ on 08th November, 2019 at C. D. Deshmukh Auditorium, India International Centre, 40, Max Mueller Marg, New Delhi.

Mr. Justice H.L. Dattu, Chairperson, NHRC will inaugurate it. Mr. Santosh Kumar Gangwar, Hon’ble Minister of State (Independent Charge), Ministry of Labour and Employment, Govt. of India will be the Chief Guest. Besides, the NHRC Members, Mr. Justice P.C. Pant, Dr. D. M. Mulay and Mrs. Jyotika Kalra, Secretary General, Mr. Jaideep Govind and other officers, the participants will be senior officers of the Union Ministries, Senior Officer from the States/UTs, representative(s) State Human Rights Commission, National Commissions, International Labour Organization, United National Development Programme, Special Rapporteurs & Members of Core Group on Bonded Labour of NHRC, NGOs, and Academicians.

The objective of the seminar is to raise awareness amongst all the stakeholders and strengthen the commitment towards eradicating the Bonded Labour System. The Seminar further aims to review the action of States on the implementation of bonded labour rehabilitation scheme while establishing conceptual clarity about strategy of identification, release and rehabilitation of bonded labourers.

The Seminar will cover three Technical Sessions. The Technical Session –I will be an interactive session on the Commitment, Review and Accountability for the Bonded Labour System which will cover Functioning of Vigilance Committees and Low rate of Prosecutions/Convictions. The Technical Session –II will be on Review of the State’s Action on Implementation of Bonded Labour Rehabilitation Scheme: Challenges and Good Practices which will cover the topics Measures for Rehabilitation and Timely disbursal and effective utilization of funds under the ‘Central Sector Scheme for Rehabilitation of Bonded Labourer, 2016. In the Technical Session-III, there will be panel discussion on Release, Rehabilitation and Reintegration of Bonded Labour: Way Forward.

Background

The Honorable Supreme Court of India vide its order dated 11.11.97 in WP (Civil) No. 3922/1985 People’s Union for Civil Liberties Vs. State of Tamil Nadu and Others has entrusted to the Commission, the task of implementation and monitoring of the Bonded Labour System (Abolition) Act, 1976. As a part of this mandate, the Commission is organizing a National Seminar on “Elimination of Bonded Labour System”. Further, the Hon’ble Supreme Court had given directions to all Sates/UTs with regard to monitoring and survey of bonded labour. As per the Apex Court judgment, the States, apart from other activities, requested to conduct surveys once in three years and also to constitute District Level Vigilance Committees and Sub Divisional Vigilance Committees. It was also directed that States/UTs should continue to submit six monthly reports to NHRC.

The National Human Rights Commission has consistently held that prevalence of bonded labour system as one of the worst violations of human rights in general and Right to Life as enshrined in Article 21 of the Constitution. Therefore Commission, in its endeavor to raise concerns on the issue has been organising Regional Workshops/Seminars to sensitize official machinery to work for its abolition in different parts of the country. So far, the Commission has organised 50 regional workshops in States and UTs and two National Seminars on elimination of bonded labour system. Such sensitization programmes recognized the prevalence of negligence in the effective functioning of vigilance committee at the State, District and Taluka levels to identify, rescue, release, rehabilitate and reintegrate bonded and child labours into society. Further, despite the high prevalence of bonded labour, it has been observed that there is a low rate of conviction.

The Government has revamped the Centrally Sponsored Plan Scheme for Rehabilitation of Bonded Labourers with effect from 17th May, 2016. The ‘Central Sector Scheme for Rehabilitation of Bonded Labourer, 2016’ provides for financial assistance is for rehabilitation of a rescued bonded labourer. Therefore a concerted effort is required to monitor and oversee the implementation of the Centrally Sponsored Scheme. The Ministry of Labour and Employment, MoLE, Govt. of India, aims to rescue 1.84 crore bonded labourers by 2030. So far, approximately 3 lakhs bonded labourers have been identified and released as per official data of MoLE, 2018. The elimination of bonded labour system is not and cannot be the task or responsibility of one single Ministry or Department or Agency. The Commission believes in a convergent and integrated approach in which resources can be pooled from different departments and integrated in an imaginative manner to produce the desired results.

(Sources-NHRC)

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