Bonded Labour System (Abolition) Act, 1976

The Bonded Labour System (abolition) Act was promulgated to abolish the bonded labour system, and prevent the economic and physical exploitation of marginalized sections of society. 

Section 4 of the Act calls for the abolition of bonded labour system and states that:  

(1) On the commencement of this Act, the bonded labour system shall stand abolished and every bonded labourer shall, on such commencement, stand freed and discharged from any obligation to render any bonded labour.  

(2) After the commencement of this Act, no person shall—  

(a) make any advance under, or in pursuance of, the bonded labour system, or  

(b) compel any person to render any bonded labour or another form of forced labour.  

Section 13 of the Act calls for the establishment of vigilance committee in every state; Section 14 mentions the functions of such vigilance committees:  

(a) to advise the District Magistrate or any officer authorized by him as to the efforts made, and action taken, to ensure that the provisions of this Act or any rule made thereunder are properly implemented;  

(b) to provide for the economic and social rehabilitation of the freed bonded labourers;  

(c) to co-ordinate the functions of rural banks and co-operative societies with a view to canalising adequate credit to the freed bonded labourer;  

(d) to keep an eye on the number of offences of which cognizance has been taken under this Act;  

(e) to make a survey as to whether there is any offence of which cognizance ought to be taken under this Act;  

(f) to defend any suit instituted against a freed bonded labourer or a member of his family or any other person dependant on him 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 debt.  

Chapter VI of the Act provides for punishment for the offence of bonded labour. Section 16 states: Whoever, after the commencement of this Act, compels any person to render any bonded labour shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term which may extend to three years and also with fine which may extend to two thousand rupees. Section 17 provides punishment for advancement of bonded debt, Section 18 lists the punishment for extracting bonded labour under the bonded labour system, and Section 19 mentions the punishment for omission or failure to restore possession of the property to bonded labourers. 

The full text of the law and its provisions can be accessed here: