Bonded Labour System (abolition) Act, 1976
SALIENT FEATURES OF THE BONDED LABOUR SYSTEM (ABOLITION) ACT, 1976
• This Act provides for the abolition of the system of bonded labour. It freed unilaterally all the bonded labourers from bondage with simultaneous liquidation of their debts.
• The Act does away with every obligation of a bonded labourer to repay any bonded debt; it also dispenses with the future liability of repaying a bonded debt. The law provides that (a) no suit or other proceedings shall be instituted in any Civil Court for the recovery of any bonded debt (b) every attachment made before the commencement of the Act for the recovery of any bonded debt shall stand vacated and (c) such movable property shall be restored to the bonded labourer.
• The district and sub-divisional magistrates have been entrusted with certain duties/responsibilities towards implementation of statutory provisions. Under Section-13 of the Act, Vigilance Committees are required to be constituted at the district and sub-divisional level for implementation of the provisions of the law. They are composite bodies with representatives from different cross sections of the society and have a life of 2 years.
• Registers containing the names and addresses of all freed bonded labourers, their vacation, occupation and income, details of the benefits received are required to be maintained under the Bonded Labour System (Abolition) Rules.
• The Act provides for imprisonment up to 3 years and fine up to Rs.2000/- to whoever compels any person to render any bonded labour and whoever advances any bonded debt. An offence detailed surveys in their States. The same information was submitted to the Supreme Court by the State Governments in the form of affidavits in 1997.
One ILO project namely “Prevention of Family Indebtedness with Micro Finance Scheme and Related Services” is being implemented in three States, namely Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka. The objective of the project is to induce existing micro finance institutions to develop, test and offer savings and loan products, particularly tailor-made for vulnerable families at the risk of getting into debt traps. The prime focus of the project is on preventing marginal families from falling into debt bondage and also to ensure sustainable rehabilitation of freed bonded labourers. Based on its experience, a model could be considered for replication or application in other parts of the Country.
Liability to repay bonded debt to stand extinguished.
On the commencement of this Act, every obligation of a bonded labourer to repay any bonded debt, or such part of any bonded debt as remains unsatisfied immediately before such commencement, shall be deemed to have been extinguished.
After the commencement of this Act, no suit or other proceeding shall lie in any civil court or before any other authority for the recovery of any bonded debt or any part thereof.
Every decree or order for the recovery of bonded debt, passed before the commencement of this Act and not fully satisfied before such commencement, shall be deemed, on such commencement, to have been fully satisfied.
Every attachment made before the commencement of this Act, for the recovery of any bonded debt, shall, on such commencement, stand vacated; and, where, in pursuance of such attachment, any movable property of the bonded labourer was seized and removed from his custody and kept in the custody of any court or other authority pending sale thereof, such movable property shall be restored, as soon as may be practicable after such commencement, to the possession of the bonded...