To give information to an RTI activist on pending trial cases under labour Act

The Central Information Commission has directed the Divisional Commissioner of the Revenue Department to furnish information to an RTI activist regarding prosecutions, if any, conducted for violation of the Bonded Labour System (Abolition) Act, for which she had filed an application almost a year ago.

Priyanka Sinha, a representative of non-government organisation Pratidhi, had moved an application in July 2010 seeking information regarding the present status of pending trial cases and decided cases under the Act.

The application remained in circulation from one department to the other but the applicant did not receive even a single response from the public information officers concerned for 50 days.

The public information officer informed the first appellate authority that the Directorate had not come across any First Information Report registered under the relevant provisions of the Act exclusively.

After the hearing and subsequent order, the application was transferred to several additional and sub-divisional magistrates as also to Assistant Commissioners of Delhi Police of various divisions.

The SDMs stated that according to their records, no cases were registered and therefore, the reply may be treated as nil.

The ACP (North) responded that seven such cases were pending and the ACP (South) said two cases were pending before the court. “The applicant feels that the responses are contradictory and misleading. The applicant finds it strange that the Department does not have the data regarding cases when it is clear from the responses from the ACPs that FIRs have been filed,” said the order.

Second appeal

During the second appeal on Monday, Information Commissioner Shailesh Gandhi said PIO/SDM (SV) had given eight instances of having discovered bonded labours since 2008. The Directorate of Prosecution PIO stated that no case had been referred to his Department for prosecuting anybody under the Act.

“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 Act are prosecuted or not. 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,” said Mr. Gandhi.

Prosecution

The Commission directed the Divisional Commissioner of the Revenue Department to check if any prosecution had been conducted for violation of the Act and provide information to the applicant before June 10.

In case no prosecutions are being conducted this should be stated, he added.

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