CUTTACK: The PIL for release of 14 persons who continue to be alleged victims of bonded labour under bartan system in a village of Dhenkanal district took a new turn on Monday with the State Government claiming before the Orissa High Court that the allegations are baseless.
The Court gave the petitioner two weeks time to substantiate the allegations made in the PIL.Anti-Slavery India, a public charitable trust, represented through its chairman Baghambar Pattanaik had filed the PIL through his counsel Khirod Rout. Acting on it, the Court had sought a response from the Government.
When the case came up on Monday, the Government claimed before the court that the 14 alleged victims of bartan system, who are barbers and washermen, are not being compelled to work as bonded. Rather they are working out of their own will. The Government made the claim in an affidavit filed in response to the petition.
Taking note of it, the division bench of Acting Chief Justice Sanju Panda and Justice SK Sahoo posted the matter to March 2 while giving the petitioner time till then to file a rejoinder to the Government’s claim.
The Court expected the petitioner to corroborate its allegations with evidence that the 14 alleged victims of bonded labour in Gadagaonpur village under Bhuban block of the district are being compelled to work under bartan system.
The petition had alleged that they are being subjected to social and economic boycott followed by physical torture when they refused to stick to their profession.The Government had abolished the practice through a notification on February 17, 2011 after the National Human Rights Commission asked it to stop bartan system.