New Delhi: Twelve states, including Delhi, have not submitted their half-yearly status reports on bonded labourers to the National Human Rights Commission since 2010 even though the Supreme Court gave an order to this effect in 2004.

Only Jharkhand and Chandigarh have submitted status reports for the first half of this year while all the other 33 states and union territories have failed to submit their statements on the status of release and rehabilitation of bonded labourers.

According to NHRC documents, 12 states and union territories including Andaman and Nicobar, Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Delhi, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu Kashmir, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Tamil Nadu and Tripura – have failed to submit the mandatory status reports.

The Supreme Court had in May 2004 ordered that all states and union territories should submit their status report to NHRC every month besides constituting Vigilance Committees at district and sub-divisional levels in accordance with Section 13 of the Bonded Labourers System (Abolition) Act, 1976.

The apex court had in November 1997 tasked the NHRC with the responsibility of monitoring and overseeing implementation of its direction as well as provisions of the Act.

Most of the states in their status reports claimed that there were no bonded labourers in their state. In the second half of last year, only four states said they have identified, released and rehabilitated bonded labourers.

In 2010, Uttar Pradesh topped the list with identification of 863 labourers out of which 61 were sent to their home states. The state needed to rehabilitate 2,041 labourers and only 175 were rehabilitated during last year.

The state caught 725 employers who violated the Bonded Labour System (Abolition) Act, the NHRC document said.

 According to the NHRC, over 40 per cent of the around 2,800 bonded labour cases which reached the NHRC in the past 18 years are yet to be solved.

Uttar Pradesh tops the list of cases with 1,300 followed by Punjab 465, Haryana 425 and Rajasthan 105. There were 45 cases from the national capital during the past 18 years.

There are ten states or union territories from where no complaints were received in the past 18 years.

NHRC member Justice B C Patel said the mindset of bureaucrats should change otherwise, there would be no change in the situation.

"Police, Sub Divisional Magistrate, Collectors and employers have joined hands. Otherwise how this (continued bonded labour) is is actively going on," Patel said recently.

He said whenever the Commission takes steps to curb the practice, they do not get active support from officials.

"They find one reason or another reason to delay things. When we seek the report, when we summon them, there are various excuses," he said.

(Agencies)