Labour System (Abolition) Act, 1976
was enacted to provide for the
abolition of bonded labour system with a view to preventing the economic
and physical exploitation of the weaker sections of the people and for
matters connected therewith or incidental thereto. It freed unilaterally
all the bonded labourers from bondage with simultaneous liquidation of
their debts. It made the practice of bondage a cognisable offence punishable
The Act is being administered and implemented by the Ministry
of Labour and the State Governments concerned. With a view to supplement
the efforts of the State Governments, a Centrally Sponsored Plan Scheme
for rehabilitation of bonded labour was launched by the Ministry. Under
the Scheme, State Governments are provided Central assistance on matching
grants (50:50) basis for the rehabilitation
of bonded labour.
The main provisions of the Act are:-
- The bonded labour system stood abolished and every bonded
labourer stood freed and discharged free from any obligation to render
- Any custom, agreement or other instrument by virtue of
which a person was required to render any service as bonded labour has
been rendered void.
- Every obligation of a bonded labourer to repay any bonded
debt, or such part of any bonded debt unsatisfied immediately before
commencement of this Act, shall be deemed to have been extinguished.
- All property vested in a bonded labourer which was immediately
before the commencement of this Act under any mortgage, charge, lien
or other encumbrances in connection with any bonded debt shall, in so
far as it is relatable to the bonded debt, stand freed and discharged
from such mortgage, charge, lien or other encumbrances.
- No person who has been freed and discharged under this
Act from any obligation to render any bonded labour, shall be evicted
from any homestead or other residential premises which he/ she has been
occupying immediately before the commencement of this Act as part of
the consideration for the bonded labour.
- No creditor shall accept any payment against any bonded
debt which has been extinguished or deemed to have been extinguished
or fully satisfied by virtue of the provisions of this Act.
- The State Government may confer such powers and impose
such duties on a District Magistrate as may be necessary to ensure that
the provisions of this Act are properly carried out.
- The District Magistrate so authorised and the officer
specified by him/ her shall promote the welfare of the freed bonded
labourer by securing and protecting the economic interests of such bonded
- Every State Government shall, by notification in the
Official Gazette, constitute such number of Vigilance Committees in
each district and each sub-division as it may think fit.
- The functions of each Vigilance Committee shall
- To advise the District Magistrate or any officer
authorised by him/ her as to the efforts made and actions taken
to ensure that the provisions of this Act or of any rule made there
under are properly implemented;
- To provide for the economic and social rehabilitation
of the freed bonded labourers;
- To co-ordinate the functions of rural banks and co-operative
societies with a view to canalising adequate credit to the freed
- To keep an eye on the number of offence of which
cognizance has been taken under this Act;
- To make a survey as to whether there is any offence
of which cognizance ought to be taken under this Act;
- To defend any suit instituted against a freed bonded
labourer or a member of his/ her family or any other person dependent
on him/ her for the recovery of the whole or part of any bonded
debt or any other debt which is claimed by such person to be bonded
- Whoever, after the commencement of this Act, compels
any person to render any bonded labour shall be punishable with imprisonment
and fine. Similarly, whoever advances any bonded debt shall also be
- Every offence under the Act is cognisable and bailable
and the powers of Judicial Magistrates are required to be conferred
on Executive Magistrates for trial of such offences.