Child Labour – Protect The Vulnerable
Child labour is the practice of having children engage in economic activity, on part- or full-time basis. The practice deprives children of their childhood, and is harmful to their physical and mental development. Poverty, lack of good schools and growth of informal economy are considered as the important causes of child labour in India .According to ILO child labouris best defined as work that deprives children of their childhood, their potential and their dignity, and that is harmful to physical and mental development. It refers to work that is mentally, physically, socially or morally dangerous and harmful to children, or work whose schedule interferes with their ability to attend regular school, or work that affects in any manner their ability to focus during war and clubs and boutros, school or experience a healthy childhood. UNICEF defines child labour differently. A child, suggests UNICEF, is involved in child labour activities if between 5 and 11 years of age, he or she did at least one hour of economic activity or at least 28 hours of domestic work in a week, and in case of children between 12 and 14 years of age, he or she did at least 14 hours of economic activity or at least 42 hours of economic activity and domestic work per week.
Indian government has made several efforts to eradicate the child laboursystem , It has passed laws and formulated policies to prevent this practice. In the constitution of India according to article 24 No child below the age of fourteen years shall be employed to work in any factory or mine or engaged in any other hazardous employment. Similarly according to Article 39, The State shall, in particular, direct its policy towards securing: (f) that children are given opportunities and facilities to develop in a healthy manner and in conditions of freedom and dignity and that childhood and youth are protected against exploitation and against moral and material abandonment.Article 45 of the constitution states that the State shall endeavor to provide, within a period of ten years from the commencement of this Constitution, for free and compulsory education for all children until they complete the age of fourteen years.
It is worth note that That
The Employment of Children Act
1938 was the first act to prevent child labour. Cases include
M.C.Metha Vs State of Tamil Nadu
AIR 1996 SCC 756, Supreme Court directed that children should not be employed in hazardous jobs in factories for manufacture of match boxes and fireworks.
Gaurav Jain Vs Union of India
1997 Case:, the Supreme Court held that the children of the prostitutes have the right to equality of opportunity, dignity, care, protection and rehabilitation so as to be part of the mainstream of social life without any pre-stigma attached on them.
Child Labour( Prohibition And Regulation ) Act 1986:
It is one of the most debated actsregarding children in India. It outlines where and how children can work and where they can not . the provision of the act are meant to be acted upon immediately after the publication of the Act .the act defines child as a person who has not completed his fourteenth year of age. Part II of the act prohibits children from working in any occupation listed in part A of the schedule; for example catering at railway establishments ,construction work on railway or anywhere near the tracks ,plastic factories ,automobile garages. The act also prohibits children from working in places where certain processes are being undertaken ,as listed in part B of the schedule.eg : beedi making, tanning, soap manufacture ,brickkilns roof tiles units etc.
Part III of the act outlines the conditions in which children may work in occupations/processes not listed in the schedule. The number of hours of a particular kind of establishment of class of establishments is to be set and no child can work for more than those many hours in that particular establishment. Children are not permitted to work for more than three hour stretches and must receive an hour break after the three hours. Children are not permitted to work for more than six hour stretches including their break interval and cannot work between the hours of 7 p.m. and 8 a.m. No child is allowed to work overtime or work in more than one place in a given day. A child must receive a holiday from work every week. The employer of the child is required to send a notification to an inspector about a child working in their establishment and keep a register of all children being employed for inspection.
Section IV of the act outlines various remaining aspects such as Penalties. The penalty of allowing a child to work in occupations/ processes outlined in the schedule which are prohibited is a minimum of 3 months prison time and/or a minimum of Rs. 10,000 in fines. Second time offenders are subject to jail time of minimum six months. Failure to notify an inspector, keep a register, post a sign or any other requirement is punishable by simple imprisonment and/or a fine up to Rs. 10,000. Offenders can only be tried in courts higher than a magistrate or metropolitan magistrate of the first class. Courts also have the authority to appoint people to be inspectors under this act.
Child labour Amendment Act 2016:
The Amendment Act completely prohibits the employment of children below 14 years. The amendment also prohibits the employment of adolescents in the age group of 14 to 18 years in hazardous occupations and processes and regulates their working conditions where they are not prohibited. The amendment also provides stricter punishment for employers for violation of the Act and making the offence of employing any child or adolescent in contravention of the Act by an employer as cognizable.
In order to achieve effective enforcement of the provisions of the Act, the amendment empowers the appropriate Government to confer such powers and impose such duties on a District Magistrate as may be necessary. Further, the State Action Plan has been circulated to all the States/UTs for ensuring effective implementation of the Act.
National Policy on Child Labour:
National Child Labour Policy, the NCLP Scheme was started in 1988 to rehabilitate child labour. The Scheme seeks to adopt a sequential approach with focus on rehabilitation of children working in hazardous occupations & processes in the first instance. Under the Scheme, after a survey of child labour engaged in hazardous occupations & processes has been conducted, children are to be withdrawn from these occupations & processes and then put into special schools in order to enable them to be mainstreamed into formal schooling system.
Legislative action plan for strict enforcement of Child Labour Act and other labour laws to ensure that children are not employed in hazardous employments, and that the working conditions of children working in non-hazardous areas are regulated in accordance with the provisions of the Child Labour Act. It also entails further identification of additional occupations and processes, which are detrimental to the health and safety of the children.
Government has accordingly been taking proactive steps to tackle this problem through strict enforcement of legislative provisions along with simultaneous rehabilitative measures. State Governments, which are the appropriate implementing authorities, have been conducting regular inspections and raids to detect cases of violations. Since poverty is the root cause of this problem, and enforcement alone cannot help solve it, Government has been laying a lot of emphasis on the rehabilitation of these children and on improving the economic conditions of their families.
Right To Education Bill:
In 2009, the government of India made a move of far-reaching consequences by introducing the Right to Education Bill. The implementation of this Act at the grassroots level is a key to the eradication of the problem of child labour that has plagued India for centuries.
Rehabitation of Children Working In Hazardous Occupation:
The government of India launched a major program to remove child labour working in hazardous occupations, and to rehabilitate them by setting up special schools for them. Under the program a total of two million children are sought to be brought out of work and put in special schools where they are provided with education, vocational training, monthly stipends, nutrition and health-checks.
Children Pledging of Labour Act 1938:
This act is to prohibit the pledging of the labour of children. It is expedient to prohibit the making of agreements to pledge the labour of children, and the employment of children whose labour has been pledged. Its makes agreement contrary to the above act void.The parents or guardian whoever pledges theirs child under the agreement as the labour would be punished with a penalty which may extent to fifty rupees. Whoever by agreement makes employment to the the child will be punished with a fine of about two hundred rupees.
Commission For Protection of Child Right Act 2005:
The National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) was set up in March 2007 under the Commission for Protection of Child Rights Act, 2005, an Act of Parliament (December 2005). The Commission's Mandate is to ensure that all Laws, Policies, Programmes, and Administrative Mechanisms are in consonance with the Child Rights perspective as enshrined in the Constitution of India and also the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. The Child is defined as a person in the 0 to 18 years age group.
The function of the commission is to:
Examine any law or constitutional provisions to ensure that the safeguards of the law protect child rights
Provide the central government with recommendations to improve correct the safeguards
Inquire into child rights violations
Examine the risk factors for children affected by terrorism, communal violence, riots, natural disasters, domestic violence, HIV/ AIDS, trafficking, maltreatment, torture and exploitation, pornography, and prostitution and recommend appropriate remedial measures
Look into the special care and protection of children from distress, marginalised and disadvantaged backgrounds
Study and ensure implementations of child rights treaties
Conduct research in the field of child rights
Create awareness through various mediums
Inspect any children's home or observations homes where children have been detained
Inspect any juveniles custodial home, or place of residence or institution for children, under the control of the central government or any other authority, and take up with authorities for remedial action.
Inquire into complaints and take suo motu notice of matter relating to deprivation and violation of child rights or non implementation of laws providing for protection and development of children or non compliance of policy decisions, guidelines or instructions to ensure welfare of the children.