ISLAMABAD - The Supreme Court Wednesday directed the Sindh government to submit report on ‘Haris’ (forced agricultural labours) in the province within a month.

A two-member bench, comprising Justice Anwar Zaheer Jamali and Justice Azmat Saeed Sheikh, was hearing the petition of Abdul Hafeez Qureshi, President Sindh Qaumi Saath, and others and made federal secretary interior, home secretary Sindh and 14 others as respondents.

The petition was filed in 1996 under Article 184(3) read with Articles 199, 187(1), 189 and 190 of Constitution, raising several questions of public importance not only with reference to enforcement of fundamental rights.

According to the petition, ex-MPA Mir Hayat Khan Talpur and Mureed Khan Maree of district Sanghar were using thousands of forced agricultural labourers including women and children on their land in Digri and Sanghar. The petitioners said the feudal lords harassed them and violated their fundamental rights guaranteed under Article 2-A, 9, 11, 14, 15, 17 and 25 of the Constitution.

The court ordered the Advocate General Sindh to personally appear on the next date of hearing and assist the court and also file a report whether poor peasants are still made to do forced labour.

In February 2000 the apex court bench had taken up the petition and directed ex-MPA Mir Hayat Khan Talpur and Mureed Khan Maree to release Haris including women and children, detained by them. The bench had ordered the Attorney General and Advocate General Sindh to assist the court on whether there still exists bonded labour system in Sindh and Act III of 1992 does not address the agriculture bonded labour.