PUCL Bulletin, March 2001

Andhra Pradesh PUCL intervenes on behalf of bonded labourers in Palamoori

On 24th May 2000 Prajashakthi, Telugu daily, published news about Mahaboobnagar District Palamoori Labourers who are working as Bonded Labourers at K.C. Cannal works, Kurnool district, Andhra Pradesh.

Immediately the PUCL filed a petition before Hon'ble High Court of Andhra Pradesh under Article 226 of the Constitution of India. Hon'ble High Court treated it as W. P with No.11274 of 2000. The Hon'ble High Court passed appropriate orders. After Hon'ble High Court's directions the ACL Kurnool made enquiries and then filed the petition under Minimum Wages Act and the Contract for paid sum to the workers. The Hon'ble High Court, thereafter, passed final orders which are given below.

Due to PUCL intervention 217 Palamoori Labourers got their difference of wages amounting to Rs 4,12,211=00. They also got Rs. 1,05,117=80ps as a medical aid.

Honourable Dr Justice Motilal b. Naik and Honourable Mr. Justice A. Gopal Reddy. Writ petition no. 11274 of 2000, order Per Dr. Justice Moti Lal B. Naik:

On the basis of the news item appeared in Prajashakthi, Telugu daily, dated 25.05.2000, the General Secretary of People's Union for Civil Liberties, Mehdipatanam, Hyderabad enclosing the press report, addressed the Honourable Chief Justice of this Court bringing to the notice of the Honourable Chief Justice that the workers working in KC Canal at Nagatoor village, Kurnool District, are not properly paid their wages and the owners are flouting labour laws without providing suitable amenities and prayed the Honourable Chief justice to issue proper directions to the respondents.

The said representation, which was sent to the Honourable Chief Justice on 25.5.2000 is treated as a taken up writ petition in W.P. No. 11274 of 2000 and notice was directed to the respondents.

On behalf of the respondents, the learned Government Pleader for Labour, Employment and Training took notice and now files a counter before this Court, which is sworn by one Mr. M. Madhu Sudhan Reddy, Additional Commissioner of Labour.

According to the deponent, on receipt of the information with regard to the working conditions of Palamoori Labour at KC Canal works, Nagathuru village of Nandikotkur Mandal, Kurnool District, the Assistant Commissioner of Labour, Kurnool along with other Assistant Labour officers visited the work site on 26.7.2000 and inspected the work spots. On an interrogation with the workers certain information was elicited from the workers and the management. M/s Prasad and company was also interrogated by the Assistant Commissioner of Labour. On the good offices used by the Assistant Commissioner, a claim petition was filed before the Deputy Commissioner of Labour, Kurnool for an amount of Rs. 4,12, 211/- claiming the difference in the wages.

The claim amount was deposited by the company and the said amount was disbursed to 217 workers. The deponent has further mentioned in the counter that, medical facilities were also not provided and therefore the Assistant Labour Commissioner verified the medical bills and an amount Rs. 1,05, 117-80 Ps. was found to have been spent on purchasing medicines for the workers from March, 2000 to July, 2000. The deponent has further categorically stated in the counter that the Department would regulate the service conditions of the workers and necessary inspections would be made in future and help the workers who are connected with the KC Canal Project.

In view of the counter filed on behalf of the official respondents, we are persuaded to agree with the submissions of the Official Respondents that they have now taken care to redeem the difficulties faced by the workers working in KC Canal. We desire further that the respondents do pay visit now and then and help the workers and get them enlightened on the question of payment of wages or medical benefits or such other benefits according to law.

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