Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Bhubaneswar, May 23:
The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has issued summons to the commissioner-cum-secretary Panchayati Raj department of the Odisha government to appear before the Commission in person and present a report on June 17 in the matter pertaining to the state government’s alleged failure to implement the six directives issued by the Supreme Court on May 5, 2004 with regard to survey, liberation and rehabilitation of bonded labourers.
The Commission, while issuing the summons, cited that despite being given sufficient time and opportunity, the state government had not filed the report the Commission had asked for.
It further said the commissioner-cum-secretary would be exempted from personal appearance if the report is received on or before June 10, 2014.
It may be recalled here that human rights activist Baghambar Patnaik had filed a complaint before the NHRC on October 27, 2012 alleging that the Odisha government had completely failed in implementing the six directives of the Supreme Court issued on May 5, 2004 with regard to survey, liberation and rehabilitation of bonded labourers.
The complainant had argued that if the state government did not change its lackadaisical attitude on the issue, the 11 directives issued by the apex court to the Commission on October 15, 2012 for monitoring the situation would never get off the ground.
Patnaik had elaborated in his petition how to implement the 11 directives for complete abolition of the bonded labour system in the villages of the state.
In his interim report on June 4, 2013, Panchayati Raj commissioner-cum-secretary, Deoranjan Kumar Singh had pleaded for three month’ time from the Commission for filing the complete report while informing that bonded labourer vigilance committees had been constituted at the district and sub-division level.
The Commission, while granting the plea, directed the government to file its report on the matter by December 24, 2013.
As the government failed to file its report before that date, the NHRC on December 30, 2013 sent its final notice to the commissioner-cum-secretary, Panchayati Raj department allowing it four weeks’ time to file its report on the matter.