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National Legislations addressing the issue of Child Labour in India

Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act (1986)

  • Based on the recommendations of the Gurupadswammy Committee (1979), the Act was passed in 1986.
  • It has following objectives:
  • to prohibit the engagement of children in certain employments
  • and to regulate the conditions of work of children in certain other employments
  • The act defines a child as any person who has not completed his fourteenth year of age.
  • The Act is divided into four parts.
  • 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 the railway or anywhere near the tracks, plastics factories, automobile garages, etc.
  • The act also prohibits children from working in places where certain processes are being undertaken, as listed in Part B of the Schedule; for example: beedi making, tanning, soap manufacture, brick kilns and 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.
  • Section IV of the act outlines various remaining aspects such as Penalties.

Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Amendment Act, 2016

  • The Act prohibits the engagement of children in all occupations and of adolescents in hazardous occupations and processes. Adolescents refer to those under 18 years and children to those under 14.
  • It also imposes a fine on anyone who employs or permits and adolescents to work.
  • The amendment has been criticised on various grounds:
  • It has reduced the list of hazardous occupations for children from 83 to include just mining, explosives, and occupations mentioned in the Factory Act. This means that work in chemical mixing units, cotton farms, battery recycling units, and brick kilns, among others, have been dropped.
  • Even the ones listed as hazardous can be removed, according to Section 4 — not by Parliament but by government authorities at their own discretion.
  • Section 3 in Clause 5 allows child labour in “family or family enterprises” or allows the child to be “an artist in an audio-visual entertainment industry”. This raises question over a large number of child labour in agrarian rural India where poor families are trapped in intergenerational debt-bondage. The clause also does not define the hours of work; it simply states that children may work after school hours or during vacations

 National Policy on Child Labour (1987)

  • It contains the action plan for tackling the problem of Child Labour.
  • It focuses more on rehabilitation of children working in hazardous occupations and processes, rather than on prevention.

The policy consists of three main attributes:

  1. a) Legal Action plan –Emphasis will be laid on strict and effective enforcement of legal provisions relating to child under various Labour laws.
  2. b) Focusing of general development programmes- Utilisation of various on-going development programmes of other Ministries/Departments for the benefit of Child Labour wherever possible. c) Project based plan of Action – Launching of projects for the welfare of working child in areas of high concentration of child labour.

National Child Labour Project Scheme

  • For rehabilitation of child labour, Government had initiated the National Child Labour Project (NCLP) Scheme in 1988.
  • The policy was formulated with the basic objective of suitably rehabilitating the children withdrawn from employment thereby reducing the incidence of child labour in areas of known concentration of child labour.
  • Special schools/Rehabilitation Centres for the rehabilitation of child labour are established.
  • The special schools/Rehabilitation Centres provide:
  • Non-formal/bridge education
  • Skilled/vocational training
  • Mid Day Meal
  • Stipend @ Rs.150/- per child per month.
  • Health care facilities through a doctor appointed for a group of 20 schools.

Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act 2000 and Amendment of the Act in 2006

It includes the working child in the category of children in need of care and protection, without any limitation of age or type of occupation.

Section 23 (cruelty to Juvenile) and Section 26 (exploitation of juvenile employee) specifically deal with child labour under children in need of care and protection.

The Right to Free and Compulsory Education Act (2009)

  • The Act made it mandatory for the state to ensure that all children aged six to 14 years are in school and receive free education.
  • Article 21A of the Constitution of India recognizes education as a fundamental right.
  • By ensuring free education to children, these would help to combat the menace of child labour in India.
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