New Delhi, March 23rd, 2011
The National Human Rights Commission, NHRC, has filed a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) in the Allahabad High Court, Uttar Pradesh seeking directions to the Uttar Pradesh Government for quashing its communication dated 16th June, 2006, under which four categories of brick kiln labourers including nikasiwala, pathera, bharaiwala and chunaiwala were denied the befit revised wages.
While enquiring into a complaint of bonded labour, it was noticed by the Commission that the wages of the above mentioned four categories of brick kiln workers had not been revised by the Government of Uttar Pradesh since the 8th August, 1990. The State Government did issue a notification on the 24th February, 2006 revising the wages of the brick kiln labourers, but the notification was subsequently withdrawn on the 16th June, 2006 with the result that the poor labourers working in brick kilns were doomed to a state of penury and reduced to the status of bonded labourers. To compel the State Government to perform its statutory duty under the Minimum Wages Act, the NHRC filed the writ petition in the High Court.
Considering the issue raised by the NHRC on the 9th March, 2011 the Court observed that under the provisions of Minimum Wages Act, revision of wages has to take place under Section 3(1)(b) of the Act at intervals not exceeding five years. It also observed that it has come across a large number of writ petitions, wherein the bonded labour is engaged and that it had issued directions from time to time and the State Government has also been called upon to give its response in the matters.
The Court ordered that the State Government is directed to file counter affidavit explaining as to why the four categories of labourers were excluded from the notification for revised wages and the steps taken to revise the wages in terms of the Minimum Wages Act. The next date of hearing is fixed on the 30th March, 2011.