Comprehensive Ban on child Labour
The Union cabinet on August 28 approved a proposal of the Ministry of Labour and Employment for amending the Child labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act, 1986, for complete prohibition of employment of children below 14 years in all occupations. The proposal is also for prohibiting employment of persons below 18 years in hazardous occupations and processes in line with an International Labour Organization Convention.
At present, children under the age of 14 years are prohibited from employment in hazardous occupation and processes and their conditions of work are regulated in non-hazardous occupations and processes under the Act.
According to Census 2001, there were 12.6 million economically active children in the age-group of 5-14 years while the National Sample Survey data said the child workforce during 2004-05 was estimated at 9.07 million. The amendments would ensure that all children would be compulsorily admitted in schools as per Right to Education Act, 2009 instead to working in workplaces, an official release said they added that it would also enable India to ratify ILO convention 138 (minimum age for entry to employment) and convention 182 (prohibition of employment of persons below 18 years in hazardous occupations.)
The amendments also included renaming of Child labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act as Child and Adolescent Labour (prohibition) Act and there will be no bar on children helping their families after school hours and in vacations, in field, home-based work (except commercial purpose).
Parents and guardians of children would be punishable under this Act only when they permit engagement of their children for commercial purpose in contravention to this Act.
The punishment of the offender under the Act would be striker and the offences would be cognizable. The maximum punishment under the Act has been increased from one year of imprisonment to two years, and fine from Rs. 20,000-Rs. 50,000 or both. For repeated offences, it has been raised to three years of imprisonment.
The overall responsibility for implementation of the Act will be vested with the district magistrate/deputy commissioner and monitoring and inspection will be done by the labour department.
Can we ever banish child labour?