Grassroot organisations from 15 states, fighting for the eradication of bonded labour, deliberated and finalised a draft amendment to the Bonded Labour (Abolishment) Act, 1976, in order to make it more relevant and effective, at a two-day meeting which concluded on Tuesday.
The draft amendment will be submitted to the Union Ministry of Labour.
They hoped that an amendment can be enacted during the next session of Parliament.
The organisations are brought together by the Bandhua 1947 campaign.
This advocacy campaign includes International Justice Mission, Action Aid India, Jeevika, National Adivasi Solidarity Council and Justice Ventures International and is aimed at amending and better enforcing the Bonded Labour (Abolishment) Act, 1976.
At the meeting, 30 non-government organisations (NGOs) and social workers came together and formed a national alliance, the Coalition to Eradicate Bonded Labour in India (CEBoLI) and unitedly fight for the cause.
The Non-Governmental Organisations felt the current rules are not sufficient to fight the emerging forms of bonded labour and hence need amendments.
Speaking at the deliberation, Babu Mathew, a professor at National Law University, Delhi, said, “The Act is often very ambiguous about how bonded labourers are to be identified and rescued and how offenders are to be caught and prosecuted. These allow govt officials to wriggle out of its responsibilities. The Act as such is good. We are seeking amendments ensure effective implementation of the Act.”
The highlights of the draft report include involvement of vigilance committees during the process of identification of bonded labourers; issuance of release certificate along with the letter mentioning the benefits they are entitled to and minimum wages for up to two years as rehab grant.