The term bonded labour can be used as another term for slavery. It was designed to exploit workers; initially it was stated as an informal agreement or a bond with mutual consent between the employer and the worker. Generally they put themselves as a form of security against any loan or borrowings from any person or relatives. But when their repayment in the form of labour becomes difficult and they find themselves unable to repay their debts they forced to work for a long period or their entire life, and this is what we call bonded labour.
In the mean time this debt is passed down generation to generation where the employer forced the labourer’s children to work as bonded labour. As there were no written or formal contracts and labour laws so the employers feel free to exploit the labourer and there were no evidences for the fulfillment of debt so the children of labours also got trapped in the vicious circle of the debt trap.
In today’s world even after the introduction and enactment of many labour laws this bitter truth prevails in our society in deeper parts of rural India or in the informal sector in a moulded way.
Bonded Labour System (Abolition) Act, 1976.
1) On the commencement of this Act, the bonded labour system shall stand abolished and every bonded labourer shall, on such commencement, stand freed and discharged from any obligation to render any bonded labour.
(2) After the commencement of this Act, no person shall–
(a) make any advance under, or in pursuance of, the bonded labour system, or
(b) compel any person to render any bonded labour or other form of forced labour.
On the commencement of this Act, any custom or tradition or any contract, agreement or other instrument (whether entered into or executed before or after the commencement of this Act), by virtue of which any person, or any member of the family or dependant of such person, is required to do any work or render any service as a bonded labourer, shall be void and inoperative.
Property of bonded labourer to be freed from mortgage, etc.
(1) All property vested in a bonded labourer which was, immediately before the commencement of this Act under any mortgage, charge, lien or other encumbrances in connection with any bonded debt shall, in so far as it is relatable to the bonded debt, stand freed and discharged from such mortgage, charge, lien or other encumbrances, and where any such property was, immediately before the commencement of this Act, in the possession of the mortgagee or the holder of the charge, lien or encumbrance, such property shall (except where it was subject to any other charge), on such commencement, be restored to the possession of the bonded labourer.
(2) If any delay is made in restoring any property, referred to in sub-section (1), to the possession of the bonded labourer, such labourer shall be entitled, on and from the date of such commencement, to recover from the mortgagee or holder of the lien, charge or incumbrance, such mesne profits as may be determined by the civil court of the lowest pecuniary jurisdiction within the local limits of whose jurisdiction such property is situated.
The bonded labour system still exists in the modern society where they try to hide this practice in the deeper rural parts and informal sector under which the debtor and his descendents has to work for the fulfillment of debt.
There arises a need for enforcement and strict implementation of provisions for abolition of bonded labour.