Permanent Imprint Leading Cases

Letter addressed to only chief justice not individual judge by person acting pro bano publico can be treated as writ petition

Bandhua Mukti Morcha v. Union of India
AIR 1984 SC 802: 1984 Lab IC 560: (1984) 3 SCC 161
JUDGES: P.N. Bhagwati, R.S. Pathak and A.N. Sen, JJ.
Date of Decision: 16-12-1983


The petitioner was an organization dedicated to the cause of release of bonded labourers in the country. The system of bonded labour had been prevalent in various parts of the country since long prior to the attainment of political freedom and it constitutes an ugly and shameful feature of own national life.

This system under which one person can be bonded to provide labour to another for years and years until an alleged debt is supposed to be wiped out which never seems to happen during the lifetime of the bonded labour, is totally incompatible with the new egalitarian socio-economic order which the Constitution has promised to build and it was not only an affront to basic human dignity but also constitutes gross and revolting violation of constitutional values.

The petitioner made a survey of some of the stone quarries in Faridabad district near the city of Delhi and found that there were a large number of labourers from Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan who were working in these stone quarries under inhuman and intolerable conditions and many of whom were bonded labourers. The petitioner therefore addressed a letter to one of the judges of Supreme Court on 25th February, 1982 pointing out that in the mines of Shri S.L. Sharma, Gurukula Indra Prastha, Post: Amar Nagar, Faridabad District a large number of labourers were languishing under abject conditions of bondage for last about ten years and the petitioner gave names of 11 bonded labourers who were from village Asarha, Barmer district of Rajasthan, 7 bonded labourers who were from village Bharol, district Jhansi of Madhya Pradesh and 23 bonded labourers who were from village Borodia, Bhanger Tehsil Khurai, district of Sagar, Madhya Pradesh. The petitioner pointed out that there were yet another 14 bonded labourers from Lalit Pur in Uttar Pradesh.


Release of bonded labourers from bondage who were languishing for about ten years in stone quarries.


The letter dated 25th February, 1982 addressed by the petitioner was treated as a writ petition and by an Order dated 26th February, 1982 the Court issued notice on the writ petition and appointed two advocates as Commissioners to visit the stone quarries and make report to the Court on or before 2nd March, 1982. They submitted the report on same date.

And it is the fundamental right every one in India, assured under the interpretation given to article 21 by the Court to live with human dignity, free from exploitation. This right under article 21 derives its life breath from the Directive Principles of State Policy and particularly clauses (e) and (f) of article 39 and articles 41 and 42 and at the least, therefore, it must include protection of the health and strength of workers, men and women and of the tender age children against abuse, opportunities and facilities for children to develop in a healthy manner and in conditions of freedom and dignity.

About the author

Editor LU

Leave a Comment