The Supreme Court today said there are no bonded laborers in the country and that a racket is running on the “pretext” of bonded labour.
A bench of Justice Hemant Gupta and Justice Sudhanshu Dhulia made the observation while hearing a petition by late social activist Swami Agnivesh on behalf of a woman worker who was allegedly raped by an associate of a brick kiln contractor in RS Pura sub-division of Jammu region .
“Do you know who are bonded labourers? They are not bonded. They take the money and come there and are engaged by brick kilns. They come from backward areas. They take the money and eat the money and then resign. This is a racket in the country. These labourers only take advantage of this bonded labourer thing,” the bench observed.
The lawyer appearing for Jammu and Kashmir told the bench that a first information report was filed in the case and investigation started. But the survivor went untraceable, leading to closure of the case in 2018.
The Supreme Court said a detailed response has been filed citing several aspects, and the Jammu and Kashmir government will take remedial steps, if any are required under the law.
According to the petition filed in 2012, after the woman and her husband expressed their wish to return to their village in June, the contractor refused to relieve them unless they paid him Rs 3 lakh.
Though the husband managed to escape from the camp, his wife and child were kept under illegal confinement. During the illegal confinement, she was raped by the contractor and others, it was alleged.
The survivor and her son had later shifted to a rehabilitation home at the intervention of an NGO and the police, it was claimed.