Perturbed over the horrific incident of chopping off hands of migrant labourers from Odisha by contractors in Andhra Pradesh, the Supreme Court today called for having a policy to prevent atrocities and exploitation of such people across the country.
The apex court, which in January this year had taken suo motu cognizance of media reports about the December 2013 incident, said there was a need for effective steps to prevent such incidents, including exploitation of women, and “law enforcing agencies cannot be turning blind eyes”.
The court, which for the time being restricted its proceedings to the two states, said, “we should have in place a policy to deal with migrant labourers. They should not fall in the hands of unauthorised contractors”.
However, before passing a slew of directions to the two states, a bench headed by Justice T S Thakur expressed outrage over the chopping of palms of the two labourers, saying such type of things did not even happen in the most primitive times.
“What kind of a country we are living in. This has not happened in the most of the primitive time and world,” the bench, also comprising justices C Nagappan and Adarsh Kumar Goel, observed.
After going through the affidavit of Odisha Government, which acknowledged the happening of the incident and subsequent steps taken by it to rehabilitate the victims, the bench said “the point is the law is a dead letter in Odisha”.
“It should not be a lip service. You have to tell us how many cases you have filed under the statutory law (dealing with migrant labourers),” the bench said while directing Odisha and Andhra Pradesh Governments to elaborately come out with the ground reality of the issue and spell out effective steps taken by them to prevent recurrence of such incidents.
The bench was told that people from poverty ridden six West Odisha districts of Koraput, Bolangir, Kalahandi, Baragarh, Nuaparda and Malkangiri are the victims of such exploitation, many of whom are working in the brick klins in neighbouring states of Andhra Pradesh and now in some districts like Ranga Reddy in Telangana.