IHC directs police to book kiln owner in forced labour case


ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad High Court (IHC) directed police to recover the bonded family from the brick kiln owner Sabir Warraich and register a FIR against him.

Justice Mohsin Akhtar Kayani also warned the police that if any member of the bonded family was hurt, then Station House Officer (SHO) of Noon Police Station could be booked.

The judge was hearing a plea of an aggrieved labourer who complained of forced labour at a brick kiln in the federal capital.

Justice Kayani remarked that in most of the rural areas, hundreds of labourers were tricked into accepting small loans to work at brick kilns. But often their debt ballooned due to unfair terms and they were forced to work at these kilns, with freedom becoming a distant dream.

Bonded labour had a sordid history in Punjab’s brick kiln industry even though bonded labour was declared illegal 24 years ago, he added.

During the course of proceedings, the bonded family members apprised the court that three years ago they had taken a loan of Rs 200,000; but now the brick kiln owner was demanding Rs 2 million, an amount which was impossible for them to pay.

Meanwhile, owner of the kiln apprised the court that Rs 1,400,000 was taken as loan by the labourer for medical treatment in hospitals. He said that if the bonded family returned the loan the family would be set free.

Justice Kayani remarked that there were legal forums for such cases and the aggrieved one should move the courts instead of making a family hostage.

Subsequently, the court directed police to support the aggrieved bonded family in getting freedom from the kiln owner and also register an FIR against him.

However the accused succeeded in fleeing from the court room when his arrest seemed imminent.