The Bonded Labour System (Abolition) Act, 1976 has been 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 other related matters. The Act provides for the abolition of bonded labour, bonded labour system and bonded debt.
The Act provided for the unilateral freedom of all the bonded labourers from bondage with simultaneous extermination of their debts. The Act does away with every obligation of a bonded labourer to repay any bonded debt. It also dispenses with the future liability of repaying a bonded debt. The law provides that (a) no suit or other proceedings shall be instituted in any Civil Court for the recovery of any bonded debt (b) every attachment made before the commencement of the Act for the recovery of any bonded debt shall stand vacated and (c) such movable property shall be restored to the bonded labourer.
The district and sub-divisional magistrates have been entrusted with certain duties towards implementation of statutory provisions. Vigilance Committees are required to be constituted at the district and sub-divisional level for implementation of the provisions of the law. They are composite bodies with representatives from different cross sections of the society and have a life of 2 years. Registers containing the names and addresses of all freed bonded labourers, their vocation, occupation and income, details of the benefits received are required to be maintained under the Bonded Labour System (Abolition) Rules. The Act provides for imprisonment up to 3 years and fine up to Rs.2000/- to whoever compels any person to render any bonded labour and whoever advances any bonded debt.