CUTTACK: The Orissa High Court has given Puri Collector time till December 16 to file response on release of 13 persons of three villages in the district who continue to be alleged victims of bonded labour under the ‘bartan’ system.The High Court had issued the notice on October 21 on a PIL which also sought rehabilitation of 13 persons who were ‘struggling for their release from bonded labour system and right to live with dignity’. The division bench of Chief Justice KS Jhaveri and Justice KR Mohapatra allowed the time after State Counsel sought more time to file the response when the case came up on Monday.
The PIL was filed by Anti-Slavery India chairman Baghambar Pattanaik through his advocate Sevati Soren. The petition alleged that complaints registered by NHRC in connection with the ordeal of the 13 persons had not resulted in their release so far.
The alleged 13 victims of bonded labour named in the petition, included six from Nalibasanta, one from Proporanga and six from Gorual under Satyabadi, Pipili and Puri Sadar police stations in Puri district.
The petition alleged that they were being subjected to social and economic boycott as well as physical torture when they refused to stick to their profession under bartan system.
In February 2011 the State Government had abolished the practice of bartan system on the direction of National Human Rights Commission. The PIL has sought direction of the Court to the District Collector (Puri) to conduct fresh inquiry as per circular and guidelines issued by the State Government.