High Court quashes bond contract

Bathinda: The Punjab and Haryana High Court on Thursday quashed bond contracts of 88 workers of a brick kiln at Deon village here paving way for their release from the contracts.

The action was taken following a case filed by a labourer of the kiln, Maiya Din, against the brick kiln's owners Arjun Ram and Harbans Lal.

According to Maiya Din, he had been serving in the brick kiln for the past seven years. But ``from September 2005 a fresh contract was entered into and we were given rates lower than the approved one. We were also denied all benefits of the labour laws and were held captive. We have not been given a single pie since last three months," alleged Maiya Din.

"We were paid 150 instead of 247 rupees per 1000 bricks. Not only this, we were not allowed to work in any other farms too. We were restricted to go out of the kiln," he complained.

Meenakshi Rajan, a Dalit Dastan Virodhi Andolan activist who aided Din to file the petition, said that they had earlier complained the matter to the Deputy Commissioner on March 30 but in vain. "Then we had to move court which got the labourers released on Thursday."

Meanwhile Arjun Ram, owner of the brick kiln, denied the allegations. He said that the labourers were already paid the balance due to them and that he never had objected to any one entering a different job. "We cannot force anyone to work for us. It is their will and if they are getting more somewhere they are free to go," he said. -- PTI