The Delhi High Court on Wednesday sought the responses of the Centre and the AAP government on a Public Interest Litigation seeking recovery of back wages due to rescued child and bonded labourers.
A bench of Chief Justice D N Patel and Justice Prateek Jalan issued notices to the Ministry of Labour and Employment, the Delhi government and the police over the plea filed by the father of a now-rescued child labourer.
“Give us a detailed status report,” the bench said, and listed the matter for January 22.
In his plea filed through advocates Kriti Awasthi and Nimisha Menon, the petitioner has sought an expeditious recovery of the back wages due to his child as well as to 115 other victims of bonded labour in whose cases the recovery process has been initiated after they were rescued.
The plea also seeks directions to the authorities to “initiate the recovery proceedings in 77 cases where recovery, till date, has not been initiated”.
The petitioner has contended that the authorities have allegedly failed to recover the back wages of his child and those of other similarly placed victims of bonded labour who are entitled to such relief as per various high court judgments.
The petition has said that such recovered amounts would serve as a rehabilitative financial assistance for the rescued victims of child and bonded labour.
The plea has further contended that various government schemes and policies also entitle such children/victims to back wages.
The petitioner has claimed that his child was entitled to the back wages within seven days from the date of being rescued, which was in 2014, but nothing has been done in six years.
Similar is the situation of other rescued victims of child and bonded labour, the plea has claimed, and added that the back wages have not been received by them despite being identified as bonded labourers and receiving their release certificates.
The petition has contended that if the amounts are not received, these victims would be prone to be re-trafficked.
The petitioner has claimed that his child was working as a bonded labourer when he was just eight-year-old and worked for one-and-a-half years before he was rescued in 2014.
“During the course of his employment, the petitioner’s child, was subjected to severe abuse for over a period of one-and-a-half-years at the hands of the trafficker/employer who inhumanely compelled the child to work for around 12 hours a day and for wages less than the prescribed minimum wages.
“The rights of the petitioner’s child as envisaged under Article 19, 21 and 23 of the Constitution of India were infringed. The petitioner’s child was illegally forced to work as a child bonded labourer without basic wages, and in aberration of his liberties suffered the most dehumanizing treatment,” the petition has said.
Back wages envisages to correct wage violations by requiring the employer to make up for the difference between what the employee was paid and the amount he should have been paid.