The response to an RTI query reveals none have been prosecuted for bonded labour charges so far possibly because the officials are not aware what prosecuting agency deals with such crimes.
No prosecution seems to have taken place under anti-bonded labour law since it was enacted over 34 years ago by the Delhi Government, though such cases keep surfacing in the national capital.
The Directorate of Prosecution of Delhi Government has claimed before the Central Information Commission that it has been referred “no case for prosecuting anyone” under the Bonded Labour (Abolition) System Act 1976.
The startling facts came to light during a hearing before Information Commissioner Shailesh Gandhi on the plea of an RTI applicant who wanted to know details of pending and decided cases under section 16 of The Bonded Labour System (Abolition) Act 1976 till date but was not provided any information.
Applicant Priyanka Sinha of an NGO Pratidhi had sought the details from Directorate of Prosecution. But her application was first transferred to Labour department which then forwarded to a number of other departments.
When the matter reached the CIC, Mr. Gandhi noted in his order that one of the officials from SDM (SV) has informed that eight cases of bonded labour have come to light since 2008 while the Directorate of Prosecution stated that no case has been referred to it for prosecuting anyone under the law.
“About 11 officers representing various offices have come to the Commission but no one seems to have any clue whether those accused of violating the Bonded Labour Act were prosecuted or not,” Mr. Gandhi said in his order.
He said either no prosecution is taking place or the officials are not aware which the prosecuting agency for such crimes is.
“This appears to be a very serious matter and appears to indicate that though people are charged with having bonded labour no prosecutions may be taking place. Alternately, it means the prosecution is taking place by an agency which none of the officers appears to be aware of,” the Information Commissioner pointed out.
He directed the Revenue Department “to check” if any prosecutions have been conducted for violation of this Act and provide the information to the applicant before June 10.