By Apurva Rathee, Advocate                                                                                                    

Introduction

Children need to grow in an environment that enables them to lead a life of freedom and dignity. Opportunities for education and training are to be provided for them to enable them to grow into responsible and responsive citizens. Unfortunately a large proportion of children are deprived of their basic rights. They are found working in various sectors of the economy particularly in the unorganized sector. Some of them are confined and beaten, reduced to slavery or denied the guaranteed fundamental right of access to free and compulsory education thus making child labour a human rights issue and a developmental issue.[1]

The problem of child labour is a universal phenomenon. It existed in one form or another since historic times. The problem is significantly more acute in the developing than in the developed nations where stringent laws governing the employment of children exist and are implemented effectively.[2] Child labour is a harsh reality in India. Despite the provisions of restrictive labour laws the practice continues unabated because employment of child labour is advantageous to employers and an economic compulsion to parents of child workers.[3] Child labourers are exploited, exposed to hazardous work conditions and paid a pittance for their long hours of work. Forced to forego education, shouldering responsibilities far beyond their years, becoming worldly-wise when their peers have yet to leave the cocoons of parental protection, these children never know what childhood is.[4]

The Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act, 1986 is in place to fight against the problem of child labour in our country. As the law was found to be lacking, the Government decided to amend the Act. The amendments were first introduced in 2012, thereupon in 2015 and finally it is in on the 29th July 2016 that the Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Amendment Bill, 2016 has received the assent of the President.

Definition of Child Labour

Child labour is conventionally defined to include all ‘economically active’ children in the age group 5-14 years. A person is treated as economically active or gainfully employed if she/he does work on a regular basis and receives remuneration for it.   The ILO defines ‘child labour’ as “work that deprives children of their childhood and their dignity, which hampers their access to education and the acquisition of skills, and which is performed under deplorable conditions harmful to their health and their development.”

Child work, on the other hand, includes all paid and unpaid work for the household or for the market, whether it is full-time or part-time. Participation in household activities on a regular basis and for several hours in a day to relieve adults for wage employment is also included in this definition. The ILO, however, argues that it is not concerned with children helping in family farms or doing household chores.[5]

 Alec Fyfe said: “There is little doubt that many children welcome the opportunity to work, seeing in it the rite de passage to adulthood. Work can be a gradual initiation into adulthood and a positive element in the child’s development. Light work, properly structures and phased, is not child labour. Work which does not detract from the other essential activities of children, leisure, play and education, is not child labour. Child labour is work which impairs the health and development of children.[6]

But in India the reality is that as per 1991 Census, 11.27 million children (in the age group of 5-14 years) were working whereas in 2001, this increased to 12.67 million.[7] Many children who should be in schools are out of the school system. This shows that they are engaged someplace else, which more than often is engagement in form of labour.

Causes of Child Labour

Child labour is a socio-economic problem. Parents for the reason of poverty have to send their children in order to supplement their income derived from child labour, however meager, are essential to sustain the family. The major reason that creates the circumstances for a child to work as a child labour includes the following.

  • Socio-economic backwardness
  • Poverty
  • Illiteracy
  • Unemployment
  • Over-population
  • Lack of education facilities
  • Ignorance of parents about the importance of education.
  • Ignorance of impact on children of labour.
  • Government apathy
  • Customs and traditional attitude
  • The provisions of the protective labour legislations are lopsided
  • The enforcing machinery, which are provided by the state governments, are inadequate almost everywhere and fail to check up on child labour.
  • The children are mostly silent listeners or non-listeners of the policies and programmes meant for them and hence, their problems are not properly realized and the safeguards extended for the prevention of child labour are not implemented effectively.
  • Economic Globalization is equally responsible for the growth of child labour.[8]

Constitutional Safeguards against Child Labour

The constitution of India carries important expression of the attitude of the State towards children, a number of Articles of the Constitution provide for direct or indirect protection of child rights.

Article 15 (3)– of the constitution authorizes the State for the making any special provision for women and children.

Article 21– no person shall be deprived of his life or his personal liberty except according to procedure established by law.

Article 21 A– The state shall provide free and compulsory education to all children of the age of 6-14 years in such manners as the State may, by law, determine.

Article 23– traffic in human being and beggar and other forms of forced labour are prohibited and any contravention of this position shall be an offence punishable in accordance with the law.

Article 24– provides that no child below the age of 14 shall be employed to work in any factory or mine or engaged in any other hazardous employment.

Article 39 (e)– proclaims that the State shall direct its policy towards securing that the tender age of children is not abused and they are not forced by economic necessity to enter avocations unsuited to their age or strength.

Article 39 (f)– enjoins that children are to be given opportunities and facilities to develop in a healthy manner and in conditions of freedom and dignity and childhood and youth are to be protected against exploitation, against moral and material abandonment.

Article 45– the State shall endeavour to provide early childhood care and education for all children until they complete the age of 6 years.

The general provisions under Article, 38, 42, 43, 45 and 47 of Directive Principles of State Policy, although do not deal directly with child welfare but provides strategy for indirectly promoting welfare of children.

Article-38 (1) provides that the State shall strive to promote the welfare of the people by securing and protecting as effectively, as it may secure a social order in which justice, social, economic and political shall be ensured.

Article-42 and 43 provide for securing just and human conditions of work and hold out a promise that the State shall endeavour to secure, by suitable legislation, economic organization or in any other way, for all workers, a living wage with specified conditions of work ensuring a decent standard of life and full employment of leisure and social and culture opportunities. This definitely includes child labourers in widest sense.

Article-46 makes provisions for promotion, with special care of the educational and economic interest of SC and ST and other weaker sections of the society.

Article-47 lays emphasis on raising standard of living of people by the State. These also include children in their purview.[9]

Protection of Child Labour under International Law

Child labour is a problem on an international scale. Both the United Nations as well as the International Labour Organization have formed Conventions and treaties to combat this issue.

United Nations:

The Slavery Convention, 1926

This Convention endeavoured to abolish slave trade and Article 2 of this Convention provides that the State parties undertake, so far as they have not already done so, to prevent and suppress the slave trade and to bring about progressively and as soon as possible its complete abolition in all its forms.

Supplementary Conventions on the Abolition of Slavery, Slave Trade and Institutions and Practices similar to Slavery, 1956

This Convention in its article prohibits the activities of sham adoption. Sham adoption refers to a situation where a poor family give their child in adoption to a rich family for a price. Such a child is subjected to exploitation in the family that adopts him or her.

Universal Declaration of Human Rights, 1948

UDHR is considered as the magna carta of international human rights. Article 4 of UDHR states that, “No one shall be held in slavery or servitude, slavery and slave trade shall be prohibited in all its forms.” Slavery has been held to mean a status or condition of a person over whom any or all of the powers attached to the right of ownership are exercised. Slavery includes trafficking in children.

Article 25 further states that motherhood and childhood are entitled to special care and assistance.

The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, 1966

Article 8 of the ICCPR prohibits slavery like practices such as child labour and also puts an obligation on the State parties to check such practices in the private sphere. Article 24 specially refers to children by requiring positive measures of protection for the child by his family, society and the State.

The International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, 1966

Article 10 of the Covenant provides that special measures have to be taken for the protection of children and young persons from economic and social exploitation. Their employment in work which is harmful to their morals or health or dangerous to their lives shall be punishable by law. States are also required to set an age limit below which employment of child labour shall be prohibited.

The Convention on the Rights of Child, 1989

The Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), adopted by the UN in 1989, defines a child as every person under the age of 18. Several key provisions of this Convention are closely related to those of the ILO child labour standards.

The CRC’s Article 32 recognizes the right of children to be protected from economic exploitation. This Article also protects children from any work that is likely to be hazardous or harmful to the child’s health or physical, mental, spiritual, moral or social development or that interferes with the child’s education.

Several other Articles of the CRC have a particular bearing on some of the worst forms of child labour: illicit production and trafficking of drugs (Article 33), sexual exploitation (Article 34); the abduction, sale and trafficking of children for any purpose (Article 35); other forms of exploitation prejudicial to any aspects of the child’s welfare (Article 36); and the use of children in armed conflict (Article 38).

Optional protocols to the CRC which were adopted in May 2000 complement Convention No. 182 by focusing on two important kinds of child labour – the involvement of children in armed conflict, and the sale of children, children in prostitution and child pornography.[10]

International Labour Organization

Convention concerning Forced or Compulsory Labour (No. 29)

This Convention was adopted in the year 1930. It defines forced or compulsory labour as “all work or service which is exacted from any person under the menace of any penalty and for which the said person has not offered himself voluntarily” (Article 2). ILO Convention No. 29 protects workers from some of the worst forms of exploitation and requires countries to adopt means of abolishing forced labour.

The State parties must neither exact forced labour nor tolerate its exaction, by any private or public entity. Under Article 25, the State has to provide for appropriate penalties for the exaction of forced or compulsory labour.

Convention concerning abolition of Forced Labour (No. 105)

This Convention was adopted in 1957. This Convention is intended to supplement the ILO Convention No. 29 and provides for the abolition of forced or compulsory labour in specific cases as specified in Article 1 and Article 2 puts an obligation upon States to take effective measures to secure immediate and complete abolition of forced or compulsory labour.

Minimum Age Convention (No. 138)

This Convention was adopted in 1973. The Minimum Age Convention requires ratifying countries to pursue a comprehensive national policy to eliminate child labour, and to set minimum age levels for admission to employment, and for light work and hazardous work.[11]

The Convention establishes that the general minimum age for admission to employment should not be less than the age of completing compulsory schooling and in no event less than 15 years of age (or 14 for developing countries for whom it may initially be difficult to enforce a minimum age of 15). Countries that ratify it must “pursue a national policy designed to ensure the effective abolition of child labour and to raise progressively the minimum age to a level consistent with the fullest physical and mental development of young persons”.

Article 3 of the Convention sets the minimum age to 18years for employment in hazardous sector which is likely to jeopardise health, safety or morals of the young person. However, this age can be fixed at 16 years, if the health, safety and morals of the young persons are fully protected and they have received adequate specific instruction or vocational training. The two exceptions to this provision are: (a) work done in school or training institute and (b) work done in artistic performances.

Article 7 allows children (not less than 13 years) to engage in light work. Though the definition and scope of light work is the matter of national policy, but in general it includes two things: (a) Assistance of children in family economy, and (b) Engagement of children outside of school hours in order to earn some extra money or to gain experience.

The framework as to the minimum age is as follows:[12]

Minimum age at which children can start work Exceptions for developing countries
Basic Minimum Age 15 14
Hazardous Work 18 (16 under strict conditions) 18 (16 under strict conditions)
Light Work 13 12

Convention concerning worst forms of Child Labour (No. 182)

This Convention was adopted in 1999. It provides for:

  • The Convention covers children under age 18
  • It requires immediate and effective measures for the prohibition and elimination of the worst forms of child labour as a matter of urgency
  • It includes as worst forms of child labour: slavery, forced labour, sale and trafficking of children; forced recruitment of children for use in armed conflict; use of children in prostitution, pornography, illicit activities; and hazardous work
  • It requires effective enforcement, including penal or other sanctions;
  • It requires measures for prevention, removal, rehabilitation and social integration, and access to free basic education;
  • It requires taking account of the special situation of girls and other children at special risk;
  • It requires monitoring mechanisms and programmes of action and provides for international cooperation and/or assistance.

Salient Features of The Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act, 1986

The Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act, 1986 was the culmination of effort and ideas that emerged from the deliberations and recommendations of various committees on child labour. Significant among them are the National Commission on Labour (1966-69), Gurupadaswamy Committee on Child Labour (1979), Sanat Mehta Committee (1984) and others.

Aims and Objects, Extent and Commencement

The legislature strongly desired prohibition of child labour and the Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act, 1986 is in itself, ex facie, a bold step towards that goal. As its preamble indicates that it has twin objective: it intended to prohibit the engagement of children in certain employments and to regulate the conditions of work of children in certain other employments where children are allowed to work.[13]

There are a number of Acts that prohibit the employment of children below 14 years and 15 years in certain specified employments, for example, Section 67 of the Factories Act, 1948, Section 45 of the Mines Act, 1952, etc. However, there existed no procedure in any of the law for deciding in which employments or processes the employment of children should be banned. Also there was no law to regulate the working conditions of children in the employments where they were not prohibited to work and consequently were exploited. Thus, the Act was passed with the following aims and objects:

  • Ban the employment of children, that is, those who have not completed their fourteenth year of age, in specified occupations and processes
  • Lay down a procedure to decide modifications to the Schedule of banned occupations and processes
  • Regulate the conditions of work of children in employments where they are not prohibited from working
  • Lay down enhanced penalties for employment of children in violation of the provisions of the Act, and other Acts which forbid the employment of children
  • To obtain uniformity in the definition of ‘child’ in all the related laws[14]
  • To empower the Central Government to constitute Child Labour Technical Advisory Committee to advise the Central Government for the purpose of addition of occupation and processes to the Schedule appended to the Act.[15]

The Act makes it clear that the rights of the child are inalienable and indivisible.[16] Further any person who engages into the child labour practice shall be criminally liable under the Act of 1986 as well as his civil liability to pay compensation arises out of violation of the fundamental rights.[17]

The Act received the President’s assent on December 23, 1986. Section 1 (2) of the Act provides that it extends to the whole of India. It has been provided under Section 1(3) that the provisions of this Act, other than Part III, shall come into force at once and Part III shall come into force on such dates as the Central Government may, by notification in the Official Gazette appoint, and different dates may be appointed for different states and different class of establishments.

For instance, in exercise of powers conferred by Section 1 (3), the Central Government in order to regulate the conditions of work of children, issued a notification dated 3rd August 1987 as corrected by S.O. 69 (E) dated 11.1.1989 to apply the provisions of the Part III of the Act to the establishments where the following processes are carried on in the State/ Union Territories mentioned against them:

  • Zari Making and embroidery – Delhi and Uttar Pradesh
  • Precious Stone Polishing – Gujarat and Rajasthan
  • Slate and Slate pencil manufacturing – Madhya Pradesh and Andhra Pradesh[18]

Definition Clause (Section 2)

The Act also provides the definitions of the various concepts in Section 2. They are:

  • Appropriate Government means, in relation to an establishment under the control of the Central Government or a railway administration or a major port or a mine or oilfield, the Central Government, and in all other cases, the State Government
  • Child means a person who has not completed his fourteenth year of age
  • Day means a period of twenty-four hours beginning at midnight
  • Establishment includes a shop, commercial establishment, workshop, farm, residential hotel, restaurant, eating house, theatre, or other place of public amusement or entertainment
  • Family in relation to an occupier, the individual, wife or husband, as the case may be, of such individual, and their children, brother or sister of such individual
  • Occupier in relation to an establishment or a workshop, means the person who has the ultimate control over the affairs of the establishment or the workshop
  • Port authority means any authority administering a port
  • Prescribed means prescribed under the rules made under Section 18
  • Week means a period of seven days beginning at midnight on Saturday night or such other night as may be approved in writing for a particular area by the Inspector
  • Workshop means any premises (including the precincts thereof) wherein any industrial process is carried on, but does not include any premises to which the provisions of Section 67 of the Factories Act, 1948, for the time being apply

Prohibition of children in certain occupations and processes (Section 3)

Section 3 of the Act provides for certain employments in which there is a prohibition on employment of children. It states that, “No child shall be employed or permitted to work in any of the occupations set forth in Part A of the Schedule or in any workshop wherein any of the processes set forth in Part B of the Schedule is carried on.”

  • Occupation set forth in Part A (18 entries) (transport, construction, Railways, Ports, Crackers and firework industries, slaughter houses, automobile workshops & garages explosives, handloom, mines, plastic units. Diving was added in 2008 Amendment and circus and caring for elephants in the 2010 Amendment.
  • Processes set forth in part B (65 entries) Bidi making, Carpet weaving, mica cutting, lead factory, oil expelling, Brick kilns, manufacturing of glass, zari, electroplating etc. In 2008 Amendment a further eight processes were added to the list, example, processes involving exposure to excessive heat (like working near furnaces) and cold, food processing and beverage industry, etc.
  • Exemption clause: The Second Para of Sec. 3 provides exemption of occupation & workshop engaging the child if on two grounds namely:-
  • To workshop where in any of the processes set forth in Part B is carried out by the occupier with the aid of his family.
  • To any school established by or receiving assistance or recognition from the government

In the landmark case of M. C. Mehta v. State of Tamil Nadu,[19] the Supreme Court observed that despite the constitutional mandates, the stark reality in our country children are an exploited lot, especially as labour. Sivakasi was one of the worst offenders in terms of employing children in contradiction to the Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act. Mr. M. C. Mehta invoked the power of the Supreme Court under Art. 32, against the violation of the fundamental rights of children as provided under Art. 24 of the Constitution. It was noted that as on 31st December 1985, there were 221 registered match factories employing 27,338 workmen of whom 2941 were children. The Court also noted that the manufacture of matches and fireworks is a hazardous industry, giving rise to fatal accidents. So, keeping in view, the provisions of Art. 39 (f) and 45 of the Constitution, it gave certain directions as to how the quality of life of children employed in the factories could be improved. The court also constituted a committee to oversee the directions given.

The Apex Court examined the magnitude of the problem, considered constitutional mandates, international commitments and statutory provisions. The Court also considered the working of the provisions of the Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act, 1986. It held that there are a number of loopholes in the Act, one of them is that children can continue to work if they are a part of a family of labourers. Also, the Act does not use the word ‘hazardous’ anywhere, the implication of which is that children may continue to work in those processes not involving chemicals. It is impractical and unrealistic to draw a distinction between hazardous and non-hazardous processes in a particular industry. What is required is to list the whole industry as banned for child labour, which would make the task of enforcement simpler and strategies of evasion more difficult.[20]

The Supreme Court has taken certain pragmatic steps towards effective implementation of the policy. They are:

  1. Survey for identification of working children.
  2. Withdrawal of children working in hazardous industries and ensuring their education in appropriate institutions.
  3. The offending employer must be asked to pay compensation of Rs. 20,000/- for every child employed in contravention of the provisions of the Act. The liability of the employer would not cease even if he would disengage the child employed.
  4. The sum so collected should be deposited in a fund to be known as Child Labour Rehabilitation-cum-Welfare Fund. The Fund shall form a corpus whose income shall be used only for the education, health, safety and welfare of the concerned child. To generate greater income, the fund can be deposited in a high yielding scheme of any nationalized bank or other public body.
  5. As the aforesaid income would not be enough to dissuade the parent/guardian to seek employment of the child, the State owes a duty to discharge its obligation. It should provide a job to an adult member of the family, whose child was employed in a hazardous industry.
  6. In cases where it would not be possible to provide a job, the Government would, as its contribution grant, deposit in the Child Labour Rehabilitation-cum-Welfare Fund a sum of Rs. 5000/- for each child employed in a factory or mine or in any other hazardous employment.
  7. In either of the cases whether a job is provided to an adult member of the child’s family in lieu of the child or not, the child shall not be required to work.
  8. In cases where alternative employment could not be made available as aforesaid, the parent/guardian of the concerned child would be paid the income, which would be earned on the corpus of Rs. 25,000/- for each child, every month. The employment given or payment made would cease to be operative if the child would not be sent by the parent/guardian for education.
  9. The National Child Labour Policy announced by the Government of India has already identified some industries for priority action.
  10. A district could be the unit of collection so that the executive head of the district keeps a watchful eye on the work of the Inspectors.
  11. With regard to non-hazardous jobs, the Inspectors shall have to see that the working hours of the children are not more than four to six hours a day and that they receive education at least for two hours each day. It would also be seen that the entire cost of education is borne by the employer.[21]

 Amendment to the Schedule (Section 4)

Section 4 of the Act empowers the central government that it may add any occupation or process in the schedule mentioned in Sec 3. But this addition is done by the Central Government, after giving not less than 3 month’s notice of its intention to do so.

The Amendment Act of 2006, added 2 more clauses to part A of the schedule namely.

(14) Employment of child as domestic worker or servant.

(15) Employment of child in dhabas (roadside eateries, tea stall, restaurants etc.)

The said amendment is an outcome of notification date Aug 1, 2006 which came into effect on Oct 1, 2006. These entries were added because the Technical Advisory Committee of Child Labour found such employment to be hazardous in nature since mostly it results into physical, psychological and sexual abuse. The matter is of great concern and it goes unnoticed because the offence on such children is advanced within the four walls of employment institution.

Appointment of the Child Labour Technical Advisory Committee (Section 5)

  • The Central Government may by notification in the Official Gazette, constitute an advisory committee called the Child Labour Technical Advisory Committee to advise the Central Government for the purpose of addition of occupations and processes to the Schedule.
  • The Committee shall consist of a Chairman and such other members not exceeding 10, as may be appointed by the Central Government
  • The Committee shall meet as often as it may consider necessary and shall have power to regulate its own procedure
  • This committee also has the power to constitute a sub-committee.[22]

In addition, a Central Advisory Board on Child Labour has also been constituted to review the implementation of the existing legislations and suggest measures for welfare of working children. Current Composition of the Board may be seen by clicking here.

Also, in order to monitor the functioning of the National Child Labour Projects (NCLPs), a Central Monitoring Committee has been formed. The Committee sees the overall supervision, monitoring and evaluation of the National Child Labour Projects. It is set up under the Chairmanship of Secretary, Ministry of Labour & Employment with representative of State Governments and concerned Ministries/Departments.[23]

Application of Part III of the Act (Section 6)

Sections 6-13 consist of provisions regarding the regulation of conditions of work of children. Section 6 provides that a child can be employed in any of the establishment other than those specified in Part A & B of the schedule. But it further defines the application within the ambit of some regulations provided under further sections.

Regulation of conditions of work (Sections 7, 8, 13)

To regulate the conditions of work there are three grounds of consideration namely.

  • Hours and Period of Work (Section 7)

Section 7 provides for six grounds for regulating the hours and period of work of the children employed:

  • No child is permitted to work in any establishment in excess of such number of hours as may be prescribed for such establishment or class of establishments
  • The period of work on each day shall be so fixed that in one stretch no period shall exceed three hours and that no child shall work for more than three hours before he has had an interval for rest for atleast one hour.
  • The period of work of a child shall be so arranged that inclusive of his interval of rest, it shall not be spread over for more than six hours, including the time spent in waiting for work
  • No child shall be made to work between 7 p.m. and 8 a.m.
  • No child shall be permitted to work overtime
  • No child is to work on any day on which he has already been working in another establishment, that is, dual engagement in two establishments is not allowed[24]
  • Weekly Holidays (Section 8)

Section 8 makes it mandatory to allow one whole day in a week as holiday to a child. Such declared holiday shall be specified in a notice permanently exhibited on a conspicuous place in the establishment. No occupier is allowed to alter this holiday more than once in three months.

  • Health and Safety (Section 13)

Section 13 empowers the appropriate Government to make rules for the health and safety of the children employed through notification. These matters shall relate to the heads provided under clause (2) of Section 13 under 24 different heads, such as, cleanliness in the place of work and its freedom from nuisance, disposal of wastes and effluents, ventilation and temperature, lighting, drinking water, latrines and urinals, spittoons, fencing of machinery, employment of children on dangerous machines, excessive weights, protection of eyes, explosive or inflammable gases, etc.

Duties of Occupier (Sections 9, 10, 11, 12)

Part III of the Act imposes certain duties upon the occupier of the establishment. These are:

  • Notice to Inspector (Section 9)

Every occupier shall send a written notice to the inspector with respect to the employment of children in his establishment. This notice shall contain the following particulars:

  • The name and situation of the establishment
  • The name of the person in actual management of the establishment
  • The address to which communications relating to the establishment should be sent
  • The nature of the occupation or process carried on in the establishment

Inspector is the person appointed under Section 17 of the Act by appropriate government. It shall be the duty of the Inspector to verify that the occupier has complied with all the provisions of the Act. The Inspector is a public servant under Section 21 of IPC.

  • Verification of Age of Child (Section 10)

In case of any dispute with respect to the age of the child, the dispute shall be referred to Medical Practitioner by the Inspector (in the absence of certificate of age).

  • Maintenance of register (Section 11)

The occupier shall maintain the register in respect of children employed. The register shall be open for inspection at all times during working hours. The register must show;

  • The name of date of birth of every child employed.
  • Working hours and period of work and intervals of rest.
  • Nature of work of any such child.
  • Other particular as may be prescribed.

Display of notice (Section 12)

Every railway administration port authority and every occupier shall display a notice containing abstract of Section 3 and Section 14 (penalties) at some conspicuous and accessible place. The notice shall be displayed in both English and local language.

Penalties under the Act (Section 14 and 15)

The Act provides for penalties in Section 14 and 15. Section 14 gives the penalties for contravention with the provisions of this Act whereas, Section 15 gives the penalties for the contraventions given in other Acts.

  • If any person contravenes the provisions of Section 3, he shall be punished with imprisonment for a term not less than three months and may extend to one year or with fine not less than ten thousand rupees but may extend to twenty thousand rupees or with both.[25]
  • In cases of subsequent contravention of Section 3, the offender shall be punished with a term which shall not be less than six months, but may extend to two years.[26]
  • Whoever, fails to comply with or contravenes with Section 9, 11, 12 or any other provision of the Act, shall be punishable with Simple Imprisonment which may extend to one month or with fine which may extend to ten thousand rupees or with both.[27]
  • Whoever, is found guilty and convicted of contravention of would be punished as per the provisions of Section 14 (1) and 14 (2).[28]
  • Section 67 of the Factories Act, 1948
  • Section 40 of the Mines Act, 1952
  • Section 109 of the Merchant Shipping Act, 1958
  • Section 21 of the Motor Transport Workers Act, 1961

Table Showing Offences and Penalties

Offence Penalty
 

Contravention of Sec.3

 

Imprisonment of 3months (min.) – 1 year (max.) or fine 10,000-20,000 or both.
 

Subsequent offence of Sec.3 Contravention

 

Imprisonment 6 months (min.) – 2 years (max.)
 

Contravening Sec 9 (notice of employment of child)

Simple Imprisonment upto 1 month or fine upto Rs. 10,000 or both
Contravening Sec 11 (false entry in register)
Contravening. Sec 12 (display of notice of abstract)
Contravening any other provisions of the Act.

 

 

Contravening provisions of factories Act 1948 (Sec 67)

Imprisonment-3 months-1 years or fine 10,000-20,000 Rs or both and

Subsequent offences imprisonment from 6 months-2 years.

Contravention the mines Act, 1952 (Sec 40)
Contravention Merchant Shipping Act (Sec 109)
Contravention Motor Transport Workers Act 1961 (Sec 21)

 

In Hemendra Bhai v. State of Chattisgarh,[29] the applicant was a partner of a firm, namely, Dayalal Meghji & Co. carrying on business of manufacturing and selling of bidis in Raipur. In pursuance to the directions of the Supreme Court a surveyor inspected the house of one Santosh Sahu and found a boy aged about 11 years making bidis. On being questioned Santosh told the officer that the bidis were being made for the Dayalal Meghji firm. The surveyor submitted the report to the Assistant Labour Commissioner and he issued a show cause notice to the firm directing it to deposit Rs. 20,000 as per directions of the Supreme Court and also education to such children who were working for his firm. The firm challenged the demand notice. A charge-sheet was also filed by the Inspector before the Chief Judicial Magistrate, Raipur under Section 14 of the Act.

The High Court, however, in this case quashed the proceedings under Section 482 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, for the following reasons:

  • The trial magistrate has not applied his mind to the facts and the law applicable to the present case
  • The firm had not employed the child as labourer in any of its workshop. The workers were supplied raw materials and they rolled bidis in their respective houses taking assistance of their children. The firm had no control or supervision over the working of its workers
  • If the house of the worker was treated as a workshop, under the definition in Section 2 (x) of the Act, then the worker who was the owner of the house became the occupier under section 2 (vi)
  • There was no document or material to show that the child labourer in question was below 14 years of age[30]

In Ram Chander v. State of U.P.,[31] the petitioner was prosecuted under the Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act, 1986 for having employed a person below the age of 12 years in his carpet loom. The Trial Court had put the burden of proving the age of the child on the accused. The High Court allowed the revision and held that the trial court had erred in its judgment because to justify a conviction under Section 14(1), the burden of proving the age of the child is upon the prosecution, and not the accused.

In Raj Homes Pvt. Ltd. v. State of M.P.,[32] the petitioner was involved in selling of houses and the labourers were employed by the contractors. The Assistant Labour Commissioner, Bhopal issued a show cause notice to the petitioner for violation of Section 3 of the Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act. The petitioner challenged the order of the said authority to pay Rs. 20,000 per labour and also to release the child labourer in his employment. In case the petitioner does not deposit the amount it shall be considered as disobedience of the order of the Supreme Court and the amount shall be recovered as arrears of land revenue. The petitioner contended that proper inquiry had not been conducted before passing the order and he was not given an opportunity of being heard. The High Court however, dismissed the order on account that an opportunity of being heard had been given.[33]

In the case of Hayath Khan v. The Deputy Labour Commissioner[34]the petitioner was running a motor cycle shop called Best Service Centre. His shop was inspected and it was found that he had employed a child of about 12 years. A case was registered alleging contravention of Section 3 of the Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act, 1986. A show cause notice was issued to the petitioner’ as to why compensation should not be recovered as arrears of Land Revenue. Thereafter a criminal case was registered against the petitioner. The Deputy Labour Commissioner thereafter passed an order against the petitioner imposing Rs. 20,000/ as compensation to be deposited to the District Child labour Rehabilitation and Welfare Fund.

The impugned order is questioned by the petitioner on the ground that no compensation could be fixed by the impugned authority and the compensation if at all could be fixed by the jurisdictional magistrate in the light of Section 14 and Section 16 of the Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act.

The Karnataka High Court held that it is no doubt true that Section 14 provides for a penalty of Rs. 20,000/- by way of fine. A procedure is also prescribed in terms of Section 16. But what cannot be forgotten by this Court is the law declared by the Supreme Court in the case of M.C. Mehta v. State of Tamil Nadu[35] wherein it was ruled in Para 27 that the offending employer must pay compensation of Rs. 20,000 for every child employed in contravention of the provisions of the Act and the Inspectors, whose appointment is visualized by Section 17 have to secure compliance with this provision. The said sum could be deposited in a fund to be known as Child Labour Rehabilitation-cum-Welfare Fund.

It was held that an order for paying compensation is in terms of the direction of the Supreme Court and that cannot be confused with levy of fine by way of penalty under Section 14 of the Act. Penal fine is different from compensation.

In State of Gujarat v. Bhupendra Kumar Jagjivandas Patel,[36] it was held that section 15(2)(a) deals with a situation wherein there is contravention of Section 67 of the Factories Act, 1948, once the offence under the said section stands established, the penalty has to follow as a natural corollary as provided under Section 14 (1) of the Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act.

Procedure relating to Offences (Section 16)

  • Any person, police officer or inspector may file a complaint of the commission of the offence under this Act in any court of competent jurisdiction
  • Every certificate as to the age of the child which has been granted by a prescribed medical authority shall, for the purposes of this Act, be conclusive evidence as to the age of the child
  • Offences under this Act can be tried by a Metropolitan Magistrate or a Magistrate of the first class, and not below this rank.

The word ‘complaint’ as used in this section has a wide meaning since it includes even an oral allegation. No particular form of complaint is prescribed. But a complaint must be an allegation prima facie disclosing the necessary facts that are necessary to constitute the offence alleged. It is on the basis of these facts that a Magistrate takes action.[37]

Certain other provisions of law are not barred (Section 20)

Rules made under this Act shall be in addition to and not in derogation of the provision of Factories Act, 1948, Mines Act, 1952 and Plantation Act, 1951.

Power to make Rules (Section 18 and 19)

The Appropriate Government has power to make rules through notification with respect to:

  • Appointment, allowances, conditions, restrictions upon child labour technical Advisory Committee & Sub Committees.
  • Fixation of working hours of the child.
  • Medical authority which shall grant the certificate of age of child seeking employment.
  • Particulars of Register to be maintained.[38]

Every rule made under this Act by the Central Government and every notification issued under Section 4, shall be laid, as soon as may be after it is made or issued, before each House of Parliament for its approval. However, such approval shall be without prejudice to the validity of anything previously done under the rule or notification.

Every rule made by a State Government under this Act shall be laid as soon as may be after it is made, before the legislature of the State.[39]

Amendment Bill, 2012:

The Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Amendment Bill, 2012 was introduced in the Rajya Sabha on December 4, 2012 by the Minister of Labour and Employment, Mallikarjun Kharge.

The recommendation forwarded by the standing committee are:

  • Change of the title of the Act:

“The Child and Adolescent Labour (Prohibition & Regulation) Act”

Reason– To prohibit employment of the child as well as of the adolescent in the scheduled occupation & regulate the condition of working in other occupation.

  • Defining term adolescent under Section 2 (i):

Adolescent – any person above 14 years of age but below 18 years

  • Change in definition of child under Section 2 (ii):

“A person not completed 14 years or such age as specified in the Right of Children to free and compulsory education Act, 2009 whichever is more.”

  • Complete prohibition in employment of children:

In light of the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act, 2009, the Bill seeks to prohibit employment of children below 14 years in all occupations except where the child helps his family after school hours.

  • Prohibition on engaging adolescents in Scheduled employment under Section 3:

The Bill prohibits employment of adolescents in hazardous occupations as specified (mines, inflammable substance and hazardous processes).

(i) The central government may add or omit any hazardous occupation from the list included in the Bill.

(ii) Part – III of the Act to be omitted.

  • Enhancement of punishment:

The Bill enhances the punishment for employing any child in an occupation.  It also includes penalty for employing an adolescent in a hazardous occupation.

The penalty for employing a child was increased to imprisonment between 6 months and two years (from 3 months-one year) or a fine of Rs 20,000 to Rs 50,000 (from Rs 10,000-20,000) or both.

The penalty for employing an adolescent in hazardous occupation is imprisonment between 6 months and two years or a fine of Rs 20,000 to Rs 50,000 or both.[40]

  • Duties upon the District Magistrate:

It shall be duty of D.M. to ensure that the provisions of this Act are carried out well.

  • Appropriate Government shall take measures for periodical checks upon the organization under Section 17(B).

Standing Committee Recommendations and Amendment Bill, 2015:

The Amendment Bill of 2012 was referred to the Standing Committee on Labour which submitted its report on the Bill on December 13, 2013. Subsequently, on November 27, 2015 the government circulated amendments to the Bill pending in Parliament.

There were a few key differences between the Amendment Bill, 2012; the Standing Committee Report and the Amendment Bill of 2015:

Amendment to Clause 5: Prohibition against employment of children

  • Amendment Bill, 2012

Under the Amendment Bill of 2012 it was proposed that employment of children should be prohibited in any occupation, except where a child:

(i) helps his family after school hours or in fields or home based work,

(ii) attends technical institution during vacation for learning

  • Standing Committee Recommendations

The Standing Committee, however, opined that this provision would create a loophole as it would be difficult to keep a check on children working in their homes, and finding out whether they are helping their parents or working to supplement the family income.

(i) It was proposed that exceptions should be removed and employment should be prohibited in all occupations where there is subordinate relationship of work and labour.

(ii) Further, rules should be made for prohibition and regulation of children and adolescents working in the audio-visual entertainment industry.

  • Amendment Bill, 2015

The Amendments proposed in 2015 did not accept the recommendations of the Standing Committee regarding removal of all exceptions. However, the recommendation regarding the regulation of work in audio-visual entertainment industry was accepted.

(i) Exceptions were expanded to include: (i) helping family and a family enterprise which are not hazardous occupations, after school hours or during vacations, and (ii) working in the audiovisual entertainment industry (films, TV, etc.) or sports activities.

(ii) Appropriate government may regulate working conditions and safety standards for children in the audio-visual entertainment industry. No specific provision regulating adolescents in the audio-visual entertainment industry.

Amendment to Clause 6: Prohibition against employing adolescents in hazardous occupations and processes

  • Amendment Bill, 2012

It proposed to prohibit employment of adolescents in:

(i) hazardous occupations (i.e., mines, inflammable substances or explosives), or

(ii) hazardous processes (as defined in the Factories Act, 1948)

  • Standing Committee Recommendations

It was suggested that the meaning of hazardous occupations and processes should be widened to include all those occupations and processes that may jeopardise health, safety and morals of adolescents, in line with the International Labour Organisation Convention 138.

  • Amendment Bill, 2015

This Bill did not address the concern of the Standing Committee; however, it stated that central government may specify kinds of non-hazardous occupations and processes in which adolescents may be employed.

Amendment to Clause 8 and New Clauses 8A to 8H: Regulating conditions of work

  • Amendment Bill, 2012

It was proposed to remove provisions regulating working conditions of children (including hours of work, weekly holidays, health and safety) under the Child Labour Act, 1986.

  • Standing Committee Recommendations

It was proposed that Act must provide for regulation of the working conditions of adolescents in non-hazardous occupations and processes.

  • Amendment Bill, 2015

This Bill added provisions regulating working conditions of adolescents and gave power to the appropriate government to make rules in this regard.

Amendment to Clause 9: Penalties

  • Amendment Bill, 2012

(i) Employers and parents/ guardians of children in employment, or of adolescents working in hazardous occupations and processes, will be punished with imprisonment between six months and two years and/ or fine between Rs. 20,000 to Rs. 50,000.

(ii) For subsequent offence, the penalty will be imprisonment between one and three years.

(iii) Every offence under the Act will be cognizable.

  • Standing Committee Recommendations

However, the Standing Committee had a different view regarding punishing parents.

(i) All offences by parents require a lenient view as reasons for entry into child labour include poverty, neglect, trafficking, lack of schools, etc. Parents may not know which occupations are hazardous.

(ii) Parents who are repeat offenders may be punished for allowing children to work.

  • Amendment Bill, 2015

(i) Parents or guardians of children/ adolescents will not be liable for punishment in case of first offence.

(ii) Parents or guardians of children/ adolescents will be punishable with a fine up to Rs. 10,000 for subsequent offence.

(iii) Only certain offences by employers will be cognizable: (i) employing children, and (ii) employing adolescents in hazardous occupations/ processes. Certain additional provisions have been added for: (i) compounding of certain first time offences by employers (like violating health and safety standards), (ii) compounding of any offence by parents/ guardians, (iii) empowering appropriate government to make rules for compounding of offences, etc.

Amendment to Clause 10: Rehabilitation of rescued children and adolescents

  • Amendment Bill, 2012

There was no provision regarding this in the Amendment Bill, 2012 and it was proposed subsequently.

  • Standing Committee Recommendations

It was suggested that a Welfare Fund should be constituted for the rehabilitation of children and adolescents from the fine collected from the errant employers.

  • Amendment Bill, 2015

It was proposed to constitute a Child and Adolescent Labour Rehabilitation Fund at the district level. Fines from employers and Rs. 15,000 from the appropriate government for each child/ adolescent rescued will be credited into the Fund. Appropriate government may frame rules regulating manner of paying rescued children/ adolescents from the Fund.[41]

The Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Amendment Act, 2016:

After the Amendment Bill of 2012, the Standing Committee Recommendations and the proposed amendments of the 2015 Bill, the Bill was presented in the Rajya Sabha which passed it on 19th July 2016, and on 26th July 2016 it was passed by the Lok Sabha as The Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Amendment Bill, 2016. Thus, the Bill upon being passed by both the Houses of the Parliament was sent for Presidential assent and on 29th July 2016 the President gave his assent to it.

Within days of being passed by the Parliament, this new Bill has been criticized by various National and International Organizations, including the UNICEF. However, before venturing into the controversial, let us first see what major amendments this Bill brings to the existing Act.

Amendment in Long Title:

“An Act to prohibit the engagement of children in all occupations and to prohibit the engagement of adolescents in hazardous occupations and processes and the matters connected therewith or incidental thereto.”

Amendment in Short Title:

“the Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act, 1986”, the words, brackets and figures “the Child and Adolescent Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act, 1986” shall be substituted.

Amendment in Section 2:

  • Definition of Adolescent added– “Adolescent” means a person who has completed his fourteenth year of age but has not completed his eighteenth year;[42]
  • Definition of Child substituted– “Child” means a person who has not completed his fourteenth year of age or such age as may be specified in the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act, 2009, whichever is more;[43]

Substitution for Section 3: Prohibition of employment of children in any occupation and process with exceptions

  • No child shall be employed or permitted to work in any occupation or process.[44]
  • Nothing in sub-section (1) shall apply where the child,— (a) helps his family or family enterprise, which is other than any hazardous occupations or processes set forth in the Schedule, after his school hours or during vacations; (b) works as an artist in an audio-visual entertainment industry, including advertisement, films, television serials or any such other entertainment or sports activities except the circus, subject to such conditions and safety measures, as may be prescribed:
  • Provided that no such work under this clause shall effect the school education of the child.[45]
  • —For the purposes of this section, the expression,

(a) ‘‘family’’ in relation to a child, means his mother, father, brother, sister and father’s sister and brother and mother’s sister and brother;

(b) ‘‘family enterprise’’ means any work, profession, manufacture or business which is performed by the members of the family with the engagement of other persons;

(c) ‘‘artist’’ means a child who performs or practices any work as a hobby or profession directly involving him as an actor, singer, sports person or in such other activity as may be prescribed relating to the entertainment or sports activities falling under clause (b) of sub-section (2).’’

Insertion of Section 3A: Prohibition of employment of adolescents in certain hazardous occupations and processes

  • No adolescent shall be employed or permitted to work in any of the hazardous occupations or processes set forth in the Schedule:

Provided that the Central Government may, by notification, specify the nature of the non-hazardous work to which an adolescent may be permitted to work under this Act.[46]

Amendment in Section 14: Penalties

The punishment as provided in the 1985 Act has now been amended as follows.[47]

Offence Penalty
 

Contravention of Section 3

 

 

Proviso:

Parents/ Guardians

 

  • Imprisonment for a term of Six months (min.) – two years (max.), or
  • Fine of Rs. 20,000 (min.) – Rs. 50,000 (max.), or
  • Both

 

  • No punishment (unless they permit such child for commercial purposes in contravention of Section 3)
 

Subsequent contravention of Section 3 after previous conviction under Section 3

 

  • Imprisonment for a term of One year (min.) – Three years (max.)
Contravention of Section 3 A

 

 

 

Proviso:

Parents/ Guardians

 

  • Imprisonment for a term of Six months (min.) – two years (max.), or
  • Fine of Rs. 20,000 (min.) – Rs. 50,000 (max.), or
  • Both

 

  • No punishment (unless they permit such adolescent to work in contravention of Section 3A)

 

 

Subsequent contravention of Section 3 A after previous conviction under Section 3 A

 

  • Imprisonment for a term of One year (min.) – Three years (max.)
Contravention of Section 3 or 3 A by parents / guardians (First Offence)  

  • Not punishable in case of First Offence
 

Subsequent contravention of Section 3 or 3 A by parents / guardians after previous conviction under Section 3 or 3 A

 

  • Fine upto Rs. 10,000

Insertion of New Sections 14 A, 14 B, 14 C and 14 D:

  • Notwithstanding anything contained in the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973, any offence committed by an employer and punishable under section 3 or section 3A shall be cognizable.[48]
  • The appropriate Government shall constitute a Fund in every district or for two or more districts to be called the Child and Adolescent Labour Rehabilitation Fund to which the amount of the fine realized from the employer of the child and adolescent, within the jurisdiction of such district or districts shall be credited.[49]
  • The appropriate Government shall credit an amount of fifteen thousand rupees to the Fund for each child or adolescent for whom the fine amount has been credited under sub-section (1).[50]
  • The child or adolescent, who is employed in contravention of the provisions of this Act and rescued, shall be rehabilitated in accordance with the laws for the time being in force.[51]
  • The District Magistrate has been given the power to compound any offence committed for the first time under Section 14 (3) or any offence committed by a parent or a guardian.[52]

Insertion of Section 17 A and Section 17 B:

After Section 17, these sections are to be inserted. As per Section 17 A, the appropriate government may confer such powers and impose such duties on the District Magistrate which would be necessary to implement the provisions of the Act. Under Section 17 B, the Appropriate Government is to carry out routine inspection and monitoring of such places where employment of children is prohibited and/ or where hazardous occupations and processes are carried out.

Amendment to the Schedule:

 Under the Schedule, to be read with Section 3 A, the following changes have been made-

  • Mines
  • Inflammable substances or explosives.
  • Hazardous process.
  • Explanation – For the purposes of this Schedule, “hazardous process” has the meaning assigned to it in clause (cb) of the Factories Act, 1948.’[53]

Criticism of the Amendment Act:

The bill is facing some serious flak from the international community for certain omissions in the bill. UNICEF has expressed strong concerns against the law that allows children to work for families and the amendment that relaxes the restricted job avenues for adolescents. They believe that these laws will promote child labour. Even the Nobel laureate and child rights activist, Kailash Satyarthi has shown his concern over the exclusion of family enterprises from the Bill.

The main contention of the critics is that as it is not possible to find out whether a child is working for his or her family or is being employed otherwise. Also, it is feared that long working hours or strenuous work will make children drop out of schools and work full time.

Harsh Mander in his article, “A Law against Children[54] says, “…on closer scrutiny, we discover the same pattern as many other pronouncements of this government vis a vis the poor: The reality of what is being offered is the reverse of what appears on paper. The ban on hazardous adolescent work is accompanied by changes in the schedule of hazardous work in the statute, bringing these down from 83 prohibited activities to only three. Apart from mining and explosives, the law only prohibits processes deemed hazardous under the Factories Act 1948. In other words, the amended law prohibits only that child work which is considered hazardous for adult workers, without recognising the specific vulnerabilities of children.”[55]

He further goes on the strongly criticize the amendment which allows children to work in family enterprises after school hours and during vacations. His line of reasoning is that “It is estimated that around 80 per cent of child labour is in work with family members. This is in farms, forests, home-based work such as bidi rolling, carpet weaving, making of bangles and handicrafts, home-based assembly tasks, domestic work, eateries, roadside garages, and street vending.” By way of this Amendment, the Schedule now only contains three occupations which have been termed as hazardous. So, by shortening the list of hazardous occupations and by allowing work in family enterprises, which includes the parents as well as siblings of the parents, the government has in fact legalized child labour.

On the other hand, the government defends its decision by saying that the exemptions aim to strike a balance between education and India’s economic reality, in which parents rely on children to help with farming or artisan work to fight poverty or pass on a family trade.

Bandaru Dattatreya, India’s labour and employment minister, while addressing the Parliament said, “The purpose of this very act is that we should be able to practically implement it. That’s why we are giving some exemptions.”[56]

The Ministry of Labour further in a press statement clarified its stand, saying that the critics of this Bill were ill-informed. The ministry asserted that the Amendment Bill clearly seeks to protect the Right to Education for those below 14 years by fixing defective provisions in the original Act, contrary to comments that it affects schooling and learning of poor children.

It further added that the comments which are creating an impression that the Amendment Bill allows first time employment of children below 14 years in family enterprises are misleading as such provisions were already existing in the original Act of 1986.

The ministry clarified that the Section (3) of the original Act of 1986 while prohibiting employment of children in certain occupations provides clearly that nothing in this section shall apply to any workshop wherein any process is carried on by the occupier (owner) with the aid of his family or any school established by or receiving assistance or recognition from the government.[57]

Conclusion:

The government’s decision to provide exclusion to family enterprises is grounded in economic reality, but in doing so it leaves behind the idealism which this Amendment was expected to achieve. Social activists, various organizations working towards the protection of children had their hopes set on a law which would finally set to achieve a total and absolute ban on employment of children, and an increased protection of adolescents. The Standing Committee on Labour in 2013 also recommended that all forms of employment of children should be banned, as otherwise the implementation of the law would become faulty because it would not be possible to keep a check on all such enterprises. All this thus created an atmosphere wherein it was felt that India was now ready to take the next step towards protecting children from child labour. It is seen that various home-based and even global conglomerates employ child labour and they do not provide them with fair wages, health care or proper work environment, but more importantly they take away a precious childhood. This amendment under the garb of legitimizing employment of children in family enterprises may end up making children work in isolated home based units which provide services to big companies.

Also, it would definitely have an adverse effect on the education of these children. We may end up seeing an increase in the percentage of drop-outs. If children from poor households do not receive proper education, they would inevitably be stuck in the cycle of poverty which has trapped their families for ages.

However, the Government has opted to be guided by the harsh socio-economic truths of our society. As much as we may choose to criticise the new law, we cannot forget the fact that in India (and various other countries) it is fairly common for children to work with their parents and extended families, whether for the purposes of contributing to the family income or for lending a helping hand or for apprenticeship so that one day they may fit in the shoes of their families.

 After bringing this Amendment, it is an added responsibility on the Government to ensure that education of a child should not suffer. The implementation mechanism as envisaged by the Government has to be an effective for this Act to remain a powerful weapon against the social evil of Child labour. Routine inspections should be conducted of not only places where hazardous occupations and processes are undertaken, but also of family enterprises, so that there is no misuse of this Act.

On the other hand, parents should be sensitized to the importance of education of their children and to the ill-effects of child labour on their child’s physical and mental health. Also, by routine seminars in schools and anganwadies, etc., children should also be made aware of their right to education and their right to be protected against the evil of child labour.

In conclusion, I would like to say that as we wait for this new Amendment to come into force, we may stand for or against it, but we cannot and should not choose to ignore it, for it is this law that shall be instrumental in protecting the children of India. Whether this amended law proves to be a step ahead in our long fight against child labour or whether it acts as a shield in the hands of the perpetrators of this heinous crime, only time will tell.

 

[1] Know  Your Rights Series: Human Rights and Child Labour, National Human Rights Commission, India, 2011, p.1 (Available at: http://www.nhrc.nic.in/Documents/Publications/KYR%20Child%20Labour%20English.pdf

[2] Kumar, Dr. R.D. Sampath, Urban Child labour: Abuse and Neglect, 1st Ed., The Associated Publishers, Ambala, 2007, p.1

[3] Kumar, supra note 2, p. 12

[4] Ahuja, Ram, Social Problems in India, 2nd Ed., Rawat Publications, Jaipur, 1997, p. 234

[5] Burra, Neera, Child Labour: Defining the Issue, p.1 (Available at: http://www.undg.org/archive_docs/3522-Child_Labour__Defining_the_Issue.doc)

[6] Ibid., p. 2

[7] Handbook on Statistics on Children in India, National Institute of Public Co-operation and Child Development, 2012, p. 383

(Available at: http://www.ucms.ac.in/Hand%20Book%20Children%20in%20India.pdf)

[8] Ali, Hasnaim & Khan, Samsuddin, The Overcoming of Child Labour in India: In perspective of Constitutional and legislative Framework, Journal of Business Management & Social Sciences Research, Volume 1, No.3, December 2012, p. 85-86

(Available at: borjournals.com/Research_papers/Dec_2012/1088%20M.pdf‎)

[9] Ali, supra note 8, pp. 84-85

[10] Hilowitz, Janet, et al., Child Labour: A Textbook for University Students, International Labour Office, 1st Ed., 2004, pp. 211-212 (Available at: http://www.ilo.org/ipecinfo/product/download.do?type=document&id=174

[11] Ibid., p. 290

[12] http://www.un.org/en/globalissues/briefingpapers/childlabour/intlconvs.shtml

[13] Goswami, Dr. V.G., Labour and Industrial Laws, 8th ed., Central Law Agency, Allahabad, 2004, p. 989

[14] Statement of Objects and Reasons, the Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act, 1986

[15] Goswami, supra note 13, p. 989

[16] M. C. Mehta v. State of Tamil Nadu, AIR 1997 SC 699

[17] Anil Kumar Agarwal v. Assistant Commissioner, Mathura 1999 II [LJ 1318 (All)]

[18] Goswami, supra note 13, p. 990

[19] AIR 1997 SC 699

[20] Goswami, supra note 13, p. 992

[21] Know  Your Rights Series, supra note 1, p. 18-19

[22] Misra, S.N., Labour and Industrial Law, 27th Ed., Central Law Publications, Allahabad, 2013, p. 1054

[23] http://labour.gov.in/content/division/committeesboards.php

[24] Misra, supra note 22, p. 1055

[25] Section 14 (1)

[26] Section 14 (2)

[27] Section 14 (3)

[28] Section 15

[29]  (2003) II L.L.J. 645 (Chhat.)

[30] Misra, supra note 22, pp.1058-59

[31] (2002) I L.L.J. 907 (All.)

[32] (2003) III L.L.J. 626 (MP)

[33] Misra, supra note 22, p. 1060

[34] ILR 2005 KAR 6001

[35] AIR 1997 SC 699

[36] (2001) 2 L.L.J. 1517 (Guj)

[37] Misra, supra note 22, p. 1060

[38] Section 18

[39] Section 19

[40] http://www.prsindia.org/billtrack/the-child-labour-prohibition-and-regulation-amendment-act-2012-2553/

[41] 2015 Amendments to the Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Amendment Bill, 2012 (available at: http://www.prsindia.org/uploads/media/Child%20Labour/2015%20Amendments%20to%20the%20Child%20Labour%20Bill.pdf)

[42] Section 2 (i) inserted before Clause (ia) after renumbering the previous Clause (i) as (ia)

[43] Section 2(ii) as substituted by the Amendment

[44] Section 3(1)

[45] Section 3(2)

[46] http://www.prsindia.org/uploads/media/Child%20Labour/Child%20labour%20as%20passed%20by%20RS.pdf

[47] To be compared with the penalties under the original Act of 1986

[48] Section 14 A

[49] Section 14 B (1)

[50] Section 14 B (2)

[51] Section 14 C

[52] Section 14 D

[53] Detailed account of all the Amendments is available at:http://www.prsindia.org/uploads/media/Child%20Labour/Child%20labour%20as%20passed%20by%20RS.pdf

[54] Available at: http://indianexpress.com/article/opinion/columns/child-labour-bill-unequal-childhood-family-workers-free-education-2941209/

[55] Ibid.

[56] http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/live-monsoon-session-of-parliament-day-7/article8901111.ece

[57] http://www.firstpost.com/india/labour-ministry-clarifies-its-stance-on-child-labour-slams-organisations-as-ill-informed-2921120.html

 

image source: http://www.henry4school.fr/Civilization/child-labour/posters.htm

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