child labour
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This article is written by Vrinda Nigam, a student of Amity Law School, IP University and Sujitha‌ ‌S‌ ‌pursuing‌ ‌law‌ ‌at‌ ‌the‌ ‌School‌ ‌of‌ ‌Excellence‌ ‌in‌ ‌Law,‌ Chennai.‌ This article elaborately discusses the national, international, and other relevant laws concerning child labour in India. Towards the end, it tries to draw a few suggestions for the effective implementation of such laws.

Table of Contents

Introduction

“Child” as defined by the Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act, 1986 is a person who has not completed the age of fourteen years. A child of such tender age is expected to play, study and be carefree about his life. But as a fact of nature, expectations hardly meet reality. Children, by will or by force are employed to work in harsh conditions and atmospheres which becomes a threat to their life. Child labour leads to underdevelopment, incomplete mental and physical development, which in turn results in retarded growth of children. Looking at the 2011 census, clearly shows that the number of child labourers in India is 10.1 million, out of which 5.6 million are boys and 4.5 million are girls. As children form the future youth of India, it is highly crucial to provide all the things they need, ranging from basic needs such as shelter, food, and clothing to social needs such as education and other things. To achieve this, appropriate legislative measures are needed in a complex society like India. With regard to India, several legislations have been enacted to control the menace of child labour.  Towards the end of the article, you’ll get an idea of all the relevant legislations and regulations in India. 

Important definitions of child labour

International Labour Organisation (ILO) defines the term child labour 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 their ability to focus during school or experience a healthy childhood.”

UNICEF defines child labour differently. A child, suggests UNICEF, is involved in child labour activities if between 5 to 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 to 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. UNICEF in another report suggests, “Children’s work needs to be seen as happening along a continuum, with destructive or exploitative work at one end and beneficial work – promoting or enhancing children’s development without interfering with their schooling, recreation and rest – at the other. And between these two poles are vast areas of work that need not negatively affect a child’s development.”

India’s Census 2001 office defines child labor as, “participation of a child less than 17 years of age in any economically productive activity with or without compensation, wages or profit. Such participation could be physical or mental or both. This work includes part-time help or unpaid work on the farm, family enterprise or in any other economic activity such as cultivation and milk production for sale or domestic consumption. Indian government classifies child laborers into two groups: Main workers are those who work 6 months or more per year. And marginal child workers are those who work at any time during the year but less than 6 months in a year.” 

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Causes of child labour

Significant causes of child employment that can be understood keeping in mind the Indian scenario, are:

  • POVERTY:

 In developing countries it is impossible to control child labour as children have been considered as helping hand to feed their families, to support their families and to feed themselves. Due to poverty, illiteracy and unemployment parents are unable to bear the burden of feeding their children and to run their families. So, poor parents send their children for work in inhuman conditions at lower wages.

The majority of the nation’s population lives in poverty. Due to their inability to pay for their children’s education, poor parents force them to start working at a young age. In reality, they are fully aware of the impact caused by frequently losing close ones to poverty. They employ their young children in homes, businesses, and factories. They are required to work as soon as possible to raise the income of their low-income households. These choices are made just to provide a meagre life for their family. However, such choices destroy children’s physical and emotional health since they rob them of their childhood at a young age.
  • PREVIOUS DEBTS:

The poor economic conditions of people in india force them to borrow money. The Illiterate populations go to money lenders and sometimes mortgage their belongings in turn of the debt taken by them. But, due to insufficiency of income, debtors find it very difficult to pay back the debt and the interest. This vicious circle of poverty drags them towards working day and night for the creditor and then the debtors drag their children too in assisting them so that the debts could be paid off. Some children are forced to work in order to support their families because they are under pressure to provide food and shelter as well as to pay off debt that their parents owe. Some children, meanwhile, are sold into slavery against their will.

  • PROFESSIONAL NEEDS:

There are some industries such as the ‘bangle making’ industry, where delicate hands and little fingers are needed to do very minute work with extreme excellence and precision. An adult’s hands are usually not so delicate and small, so they require children to work for them and do such dangerous work with glass. This often resulted in major eye accidents of the children.

  • NO SPACE FOR ALTERNATIVES 
According to the International Labour Organization (ILO), a significant contributing factor that pushes children into hazardous labour is a lack of available alternatives, such as affordable schools and high-quality education.  Children are bound to work because they are dissatisfied and have no other means of earning. There are not enough acceptable school facilities in many localities, especially rural ones where child labour is rampant.  Even when schools are available, they are frequently too far away, challenging to reach, expensive, or the quality of instruction is so low that parents question whether attending school is actually worthwhile. Even after 75 years of independence, there are still a number of children whose right to education is denied owing to their situations. This can only be managed by the effective implementation of national schemes.
  • SOCIAL CAUSES
The primary cause of child labour in India is also the country’s social and economic backwardness. Parents who are socially backwards do not send their children to school. As a consequence, their children are compelled into child labour. Many times, parents are unaware of different programmes for children’s education because of illiteracy. Child labour has been fostered by a lack of education, illiteracy, and, as a result, a lack of understanding of rights among children. Additionally, illiterate parents are unaware of the effects child labour has on their children. Rural households have a compulsive reason for including children in a variety of duties due to the situations of poverty and unemployment. In actuality, India’s child labour issue is still perpetuated by the remains of the feudal, zamindari system.
  • FAMILY TRADITION
The cultural tradition in many countries is that children follow their parent’s footsteps with regard to their profession. Subsequently, it ends in child labour as they tend to learn and practise that skill from a very young age, especially where informal economy and small household businesses exist. Similarly, the education of girls is often undervalued, leading to pressure on these girls to engage in child labour, such as domestic duties.
  • ADDICTION, DISEASE OR DISABILITY
Due to addiction, illness, or disability, there is often no income in the family, and the child’s wages are the only source of support. Additionally, when the population grows, unemployment rises, which has a negative effect on initiatives to prevent child labour. In order to boost the family’s income, parents are prepared to send their children to work instead of enrolling them in school.
  • POOR COMPLIANCE WITH LAWS
In today’s culture, regulations guarantee that people have the right to a good education, access to quality healthcare, and self-care. Every person has the right to play the game he likes, and enjoy all the means of enjoyment, and when he develops, to acquire work where he may earn well and contribute to society and nation. But child labour is still being used in India since the regulations are not being followed properly. Only rigorous adherence to the relevant laws will make it unlawful.
  • DISCRIMINATION BETWEEN GIRLS AND BOYS
There’s a general belief that boys are stronger than girls and that they cannot be compared on an equal footing. In our culture, there are numerous instances where girls are denied the opportunity to pursue their education. Girls who are considered as being weaker than boys are denied access to education and school. Girls are often seen working alongside their parents in households that are labourers.
  • OTHER MINOR CAUSES
Some shops, businesses, and factory owners hire them out of a desire for cheap labour so that they may pay them less, which amounts to hiring cheap labour. Shopkeepers and other small company owners make them work just as hard as older people while only paying them half as much. Child labour also reduces the likelihood of theft, greed, or money misappropriation. Child labour has been encouraged in India as a result of the growth of globalisation, privatisation, and consumerist culture as well as the demand for inexpensive labour and its connection to the financial needs of low-income families. This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Trademark-696X293.jpg

International legal framework regarding child labour

International Labour Organization (ILO) Conventions

The United Nations organisation known as the International Labour Organization was founded in 1919. In order to establish labour standards, create policies, and create programmes encouraging decent work for all women and men, the ILO brings together governments, employers, and workers representatives of 187 member States. Setting International Labour Standards in the form of Conventions and Recommendations is the ILO’s primary mode of activity. ILO Conventions Minimum Age Convention, 1973 (No.138) and Worst Forms of Child Labour Convention, 1999 (No. 182) are the two Core Conventions that directly address child labour.  These two Core Conventions have been ratified by India.

The Minimum Age Convention,1973 (No. 138)

  • In June 1976, the Minimum Age Convention (No. 138), which was established in 1973, went into force. 
  • By requiring nations to set a minimum age for entering into work or employment and implement national strategies for the eradication of child labour, the ILO Convention seeks to effectively abolish child labour.
  • As a way to eliminate child labour, the Convention compels State Parties to designate a minimum age for employment. 
  • The minimum age required under the Convention is 15, although if limited to a short period of time, state parties may establish the minimum age at 14. 
  • The Convention permits younger children (under the age of 15) to perform light labour. 
  • The successful execution of the Convention is monitored and supervised by the Committee of Experts.
  • Every three years, state parties are required to submit a report outlining the progress of implementation. 
  • One of the 15 basic conventions covered by the GSP regulations is the Minimum Age Convention.
  • The Recommendation No. 146 goes along with Convention No. 138, and emphasises the need for national plans and policies to include provisions for poverty alleviation, the promotion of decent jobs for adults so that parents are not forced to use child labour, free and compulsory education, the provision of vocational training, the expansion of social security and systems for birth registration, as well as suitable facilities for the protection of children and adolescents who work.

 Worst Forms of Child Labour Convention, 1999 (No. 182)

  • The International Labour Organization proposed Convention 182, on June 17, 1999, in Geneva, and all of the ILO’s members overwhelmingly approved it.
  • To intensify the battle against child labour, Convention 182 lists the five worst types of work that must be eliminated. They are
  • Slavery or related activities, such as the buying, selling, or using of minors as   serfs or indentured servants;
  • Coercive or forced labour, including the conscription of minors into armed warfare;
  • The solicitation, use, or offer of a minor for prostitution, the production of pornographic media, or participation in pornographic shows;
  • The uses, recruitment, or offer of a minor for illegal activities, particularly the manufacturing or trafficking of narcotics;
  • Work that might endanger children’s health, safety, or morals due to its nature or the circumstances under which it is performed.
  • The ILO established the International Programme on the Elimination of Child Labour (IPEC) in 1992 to assist the State members in putting these most harmful kinds of employment to a halt. The IPEC also lists instances of child labour violations where victims may receive help and specific remedies can be offered for each circumstance.
  • According to Recommendation No. 190, work that exposes children to physical, psychological, or sexual abuse, work underground, underwater, at dangerous heights, or in confined spaces, work with hazardous machinery, equipment, and tools; or carrying heavy loads; exposure to hazardous substances, agents, or processes; or exposure to temperatures, noise levels, or vibrations that are harmful to health are all recommended to be included in any definition of ‘hazardous work.’

Declaration of Rights of Child, 1959

The Geneva Declaration, a historic declaration established by the League of Nations in 1924, was the first to acknowledge and recognise the reality of children’s rights and the responsibilities of adults to children. After World War II, the United Nations (UN) was established. The Geneva Declaration, however, had to be built upon as a result of the progress of rights following the ratification of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948. To address the idea that mankind owes the Child the best that it has to provide, they decided to develop a second Declaration of the Rights of the Child. The Declaration of the Rights of the Child (1959) was unanimously adopted by all 78 members of the United Nations General Assembly on November 20, 1959, in Resolution 1386 (XIV) The primary principles are outlined in the Declaration of the Rights of the Child including
  • The freedom from discrimination based on one’s race, religion, or national origin.
  • The right to extra protection for a child’s social, emotional, and physical growth.
  • The right to one’s name and country of origin.
  • The right to a healthy diet, a decent place to live, and access to healthcare.
  • When a child has a physical or mental disability, they are entitled to special education and care.
  • The right to free recreation and instruction.
  • The right to get aid among the first in all situations.
  • The freedom from all kinds of abuse, brutality, and exploitation.
  • The right to be raised in an environment that values compassion, tolerance, intercultural friendliness, and global brotherhood.

United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC), 1989

The UNCRC is a human rights treaty that establishes children’s political, civil, economic, social, cultural, and other rights, which the members must abide by.  The Convention has 54 articles that outline numerous children’s rights as well as the actions that governments should take to ensure that these rights are available to children. In 1989, the United Nations approved the CRC. After getting the required 20 ratifications, it became effective in 1990. All UN members have approved it, with the exception of the US. All parties are obligated under the convention’s provisions to make sure that children’s fundamental needs are met and that they can realise their full potential.

Types of child labour

Industrial child labour 

  • Children under the legal age of 18 are most frequently employed in the industrial sector in India. Over 10 million children, including over 4.5 million girls, between the ages of 5 and 14 labour in unorganized sectors. 
  • Some of the major employers of children are small businesses, such as the garment industry, brick kilns, agriculture, fireworks industries, diamond industries, etc. Such businesses occasionally run out of people’s homes, which makes it challenging for the government to take necessary action.
  • One of the largest and most prominent employers of children in India is the unorganized industry. Children can be easily spotted working on roadside dhabas and cafes, tea stalls, or grocery stores. Here, children are preferred since they are manageable and simple to fire.

Domestic child labour

  • In India, 74% of child domestic workers in India are said to be between the age group of 12 to 16. They include both boys and girls who work as domestic help for rich families to take care of their daily chores. 
  • At a time when they ought to be in school and playing with friends, these children have no choice but to help other families out. In most cases, the primary cause is poverty. 
  • Typically, parents consent in the hopes of receiving financial support and a secure home for their children. Most of the domestic employees in the statistics are girls, and nearly 20% of all domestic workers hired are under the age of 14.
  • These children labour for the family as live-in servants, doing chores including cooking, cleaning, taking care of the family’s pets or young ones, and other duties.

Bonded child labour

  • A child who is forced to work as a slave to pay off his parents’ or guardian’s debt is said to be engaged in bonded child labour. 
  • Although the prevalence of bonded child labour has significantly decreased in recent years as a result of strong government oversight and legislation outlawing it, it still occurs covertly in outlying areas.
  • Children who live in rural areas and work in agriculture are more likely to be subjected to this kind of labour. Poor farmers who are heavily indebted to lenders sometimes agree to hire their siblings as labourers for rich lenders. 
  • Up to the last ten years, there were thousands of bound labourers employed in a variety of businesses, but today those numbers have sharply declined, and the government asserts that there are no longer any bonded child labourers.
arbitration

Legal age for working in India

Except for some family-based jobs, hiring minors under the age of 14 for any type of labour is an offence that carries a maximum of 2-year imprisonment. Adolescents between the ages of 14 and 18 are not permitted to work in any dangerous jobs. The Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Amendment Bill, 2012 allows for the punishment of both the parents and the hired child.

Children under 14 years of age

  • Children under the age of 14 are not allowed to work in any profession or process, nor are they allowed to be hired. However, if a child assists his or her family or family business (which is not a dangerous activity), after school or during a break, this limitation won’t apply. A child’s family includes their mother, father, brother, sister, mother’s sister, father’s sister, and all of their grandparents.
  • Additionally, if certain restrictions and safety precautions are met, a child under the age of 14 may work as an artist in the audio-visual entertainment sector, including commercials, movies, television series, and any other kind of entertainment or sport excluding the circus.

 Adolescents – 14 to 18 years of age 

Adolescents are permitted to engage in non-hazardous activities and procedures under the Child Labour (Prevention and Regulation) Amendment Act. The company must meet the following requirements before hiring an adolescent:
  • Every day’s work schedule should be established such that no segment of time is more than three hours.
  • After working for three hours, the adolescent has to take a break for at least an hour.
  • An adolescent is only allowed to work for a total of six hours each day, not counting any waiting time.
  • Adolescents are not permitted to work from 7 p.m. to 8 a.m.
  • They cannot be forced to put in extra hours.
  • They are not allowed to work simultaneously in more than one place of enterprise.
  • Adolescents must receive a full day of holiday each week.

The rules for employment of adolescents

All employers who hire adolescents are required to keep a register with the following details:
  • Name and birthdate of each teenager hired and given permission to work.
  • Hours and work periods that adolescents work during, as well as the rest times to which they are entitled.
  • The type of employment that they do.
In addition to the aforementioned register, the owner of the business must provide the local inspector with the following details within 30 days after hiring or allowing an adolescent to work there:
  • Name and location of the business.
  • Name of the person really in charge of running the business.
  • Address where correspondence about the establishment should be sent.
  • Type of work or procedure performed in the establishment.
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Child labour laws in India

When in the 20th Century, child labour became so prominent that news of factory hazards and mishappenings taking innocent children’s life, flashed all around in the newspapers, then was the time, a need for legislation and statutes were felt to prohibit the mal practice of child labour. Today, there are sufficient statutes condemning and prohibiting child labour such as:

The Factories Act of 1948: The Act prohibits the employment of children below the age of 14 years in any factory. The law also placed rules on who, when and how long can pre-adults aged 15–18 years be employed in any factory.

The Mines Act of 1952: The Act prohibits the employment of children below 18 years of age in a mine. Mining being one of the most dangerous occuptions, which in the past has led to many major accidents taking life of children is completely banned for them.

The Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act of 1986: The Act prohibits the employment of children below the age of 14 years in hazardous occupations identified in a list by the law. The list was expanded in 2006, and again in 2008.

The Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection) of Children Act of 2000: This law made it a crime, punishable with a prison term, for anyone to procure or employ a child in any hazardous employment or in bondage. This act provides punishment to those who act in contravention to the previous acts by employing children to work.

 The Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act of 2009: The law mandates free and compulsory education to all children aged 6 to 14 years. This legislation also mandated that 25 percent of seats in every private school must be allocated for children from disadvantaged groups and physically challenged children.

National framework regarding child labour

Constitutional provisions involving child labour in India

  • Compulsory education

According to Article 21(A) of the Indian Constitution, all children between the ages of 6 and 14 must get free and compulsory education.
  • Prohibition of traffic in human beings and forced labour

Article 23 prohibits traffic in human beings and begar, and other forms of forced labour are prohibited, and anyone found in violation of this faces legal consequences.
  • Prohibition of employment of children in factories

Further, Article 24 expressly forbids the employment of minors under the age of 14 in hazardous factories that could bring them long-term bodily and mental harm.
  • Prevention from coercive factors

The directive principles of state policy in Article 39(e) declare that citizens should not be coerced by economic need to engage in occupations that are inappropriate for their age or physical capacity or exploit the health and strength of employees, men and women, and children at a vulnerable age.
  • Fundamental duty

According to Article 51A(k) of the Constitution, which is a part of the Directive Principles of State Policy (DPSP), every individual, including parents and guardians of children, has a basic responsibility to give their offspring opportunities for education between the ages of 6 and 14.
  • Duty of the state to raise the level of nutrition

As per Article 47, the State is required to enhance the standard of living, the level of nutrition, and public health.
  • Protection from exploitation

According to Article 39(f), children must be safeguarded from exploitation and other abandonment. They must also be given the chance and resources to grow up in a healthy way, with freedom and dignity. The state has been given the mandate to increase the bar for living conditions, food quality, and public health.
  • Child care

By attempting to entrust programmes of women and child development to panchayat (item 25 of Schedule 11), in addition to education (item 17), family welfare (item 25), health and sanitation (item 23), and other items with a bearing on the welfare of children, Article 243G read with Schedule 11 seeks to institutionalise child care.

Domestic Acts related to child labour

Minimum wages Act, 1948

The Minimum Wages Act, (1948) establishes minimum pay rates for a number of jobs that have been identified by the relevant government and are included in the schedule of the Act.  The Act established minimum wage rates for adults, adolescents, and children.

Plantation Labour Act, 1951

According to the Plantation Labour Act, 1951, a child (under the age of 14) or an adolescent (aged 15–18) cannot be hired for work unless a doctor certifies that they are healthy enough to do so. A certifying surgeon who has determined that the subject of his examination is fit to work as a child or as an adolescent can issue the certificate of fitness. This Act establishes that housing, medical care, and recreational facilities are all the responsibility of the employer.

Merchant Shipping Act, 1958

The Merchant Shipping Act , 1958 forbids the employment of children under the age of 15 in a ship, with the exception of a school ship or training ship, a ship governed by family, a home trade ship of fewer than 200 tonnes gross, or a ship where the child will be employed for a meagre wage and be under the supervision of his father or another nearby adult male relative.

The Beedi and Cigar Workers (Conditions of Employment) Act, 1966

The Beedi and Cigar Workers (Conditions of Employment) Act, passed in 1966, applies to all industrial facilities where any manufacturing activity related to the production of beedis, cigars, or both is now being done or is typically done, with or without the use of power. The Act forbids the employment of children under the age of 14 in any such establishment.  Children between the ages of 14 and 18 are not allowed to work between the hours of 7 p.m. and 6 a.m. 

Child Labour (Prohibition & Regulation) Act, 1986 

  • According to the Child Labour (Prohibition & Regulation) Act of 1986, a person who has not reached the age of 14 is considered to be a “child.”
  • The Schedule to the Act forbids the employment of children in 57 jobs and 13 activities.
  • A Technical Advisory Committee is established under the Act to provide recommendations for the addition of new jobs and operations to the Schedule.
  • All jobs and activities that are not expressly forbidden by the Act have their work conditions governed by the Act (Part III).
  • Anyone found guilty of hiring a child in violation of Section 3 of the Act faces a sentence of imprisonment for a term that must not be less than three months but may go as long as one year, and a fine that must not be less than Rs 10,000 but may go as high as Rs 20,000, or a combination of the two.
  • The provisions are put into effect in each of their respective jurisdictions by the Central and State Governments.

Child Labour (Prohibition & Regulation) Amendment Act, 2016

The Child labour (Prohibition & Regulation) Amendment Act, 2016, which the government passed, went into effect on January 1, 2016. The Amendment Act explicitly forbids hiring anybody under the age of 14. Additionally, the amendment forbids hiring adolescents between the ages of 14 and 18 for risky jobs and procedures and restricts their working conditions in cases where it is not. The change also makes it a crime for businesses to hire any child or adolescent in violation of the Act, increasing the severity of the penalties for such violations. The amendment gives the competent Government the authority to provide a District Magistrate with the requisite powers and impose the appropriate responsibilities in order to accomplish the efficient implementation of the provisions. In order to ensure the Act is implemented effectively, the State Action Plan has also been distributed to all States and UTs. 

Hazardous occupations

Part III of ‘The Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act of 1986 provides for the ‘Prohibition of employment of children in certain occupations and processes’. The Schedule gives a list of hazardous occupations in two parts, via; A and B

Part A provides that, No child shall be employed or permitted to work in any of the following occupations:

  1. Transport of passengers, goods; or mails by railway
  2. Cinder picking, clearing of an ash pit or building operation in the railway premise.
  3. Work in a catering establishment at a railway station, involving the movement of vendor or any other employee of the establishment from one platform to another or into or out of a moving train.
  4. Work relating to the construction of railway station or with any other work where such work is done in close proximity to or between the railway lines.
  5. The port authority within the limits of any port.
  6. Work relating to selling of crackers and fireworks in shops with temporary licenses
  7. Abattoirs/slaughter Houses
  8. Automobile workshops and garages.
  9. Foundries
  10. Handling of taxies or inflammable substance or explosives
  11. Handloom and power loom industry
  12. Mines (Underground and under water) and collieries
  13. Plastic units and Fiber glass workshop.
  14. Employment  of children and domestic   workers or servants;
  15. Employment of children in dhabas ( roadside eateries), restaurants,  hotels, motels, tea shops, resorts, spas or other recreational centres;
  16. Diving;
  17. Circus;
  18. Caring for Elephants.

Part B provides that, No child shall be employed or permitted to work in any of the following workshop wherein any of the following processes is carried on.

  1. Electroplating;
  2. Graphite powdering and incidental processing;
  3. Grinding or glazing of metals;
  4. Diamond cutting and polishing;
  5. Extraction of slate from mines;
  6. Rag picking and scavenging.
  7. Processes involving exposure to excessive heat (e.g. working near the furnace) and cold;
  8. Mechanised fishing;
  9. Food Processing;
  10. Beverage Industry;
  11. Timber handling and loading;
  12. Mechanical Lumbering.
  13. Warehousing;
  14. Processes involving exposure to free silica such as slate, pencil industry, stone grinding, slate stone mining, stone quarries, and agate industry.
  15. Beedi making;
  16. Carpet Weaving;
  17. Cement manufacture including bagging of cement;
  18. Cloth printing, dyeing and weaving;
  19. Manufacture of matches, explosive and fireworks;
  20. Mica cutting and splitting;
  21. Shellac manufacture;
  22. Soap manufacture;
  23. Tanning;
  24. Wool cleaning;
  25. Building and construction industry;
  26. Manufacture of slate pencils (including packing);
  27. Manufacture of products of agats;
  28. Manufacturing processes using toxic metals and substances such as lead, mercury, manganese, chromium, cadmium, benzene, pesticides and asbestos;
  29. All Hazardous prossess an defined in section 2(cb) and dangerous operations as notified in ruler made under section 87 of the Factories Act 1948;
  30. Printing (as defined in section 2(k) of the factories Act 1948;
  31. Cashew and cashew nut descaling and processing;
  32. Soldering process in electronic industries;
  33. Incense Stick (Agarbathi) manufacturing;
  34. Automobile repairs and maintenance (namely welding lather work , dent beating and printing);
  35. Brick kilns and Roof files units;
  36. Cotton ginning and processing and production of hosiery goods;
  37. Detergent manufacturing;
  38. Fabrication workshop (ferrous and non-ferrous);
  39. Gem cutting and polishing;
  40. Handling of chromites and manganies ores;
  41. Jute textile manufacture and of coir making;
  42. Lime kilns and manufacture of lime;
  43. Lock making;
  44. Manufacturing process having exposure to lead such as primary and secondary smelting, welding etc. ( See item 30 of part B process);
  45. Manufacture of glass, glass ware including bangles fluorescent tubes bulbs and other similar glass products;
  46. Manufacturing of cement pipes, cement products, and other related work;
  47. Manufacture of dyes and dye stuff;
  48. Manufacturing or handling of pesticides and insecticides;
  49. Manufacturing or processing and handling of corrosive and toxic substances, metal cleaning and photo enlarging and soldering processes in electronic industry;
  50. Manufacturing of burning coal and coal briquette;
  51. Manufacturing of sports goods involving to synthetic materials, chemicals and leather;
  52. Moulding and processing of fiberglass and plastics;
  53. Oil expelling and refinery;
  54. Paper making;
  55. Potteries and ceramic industry;
  56. Polishing, moulding, cutting welding and manufacture of brass goods in all forms;
  57. Process in agriculture where tractors, threshing and harvesting machines are used and chabt cutting;
  58. Saw mill all process;
  59. Sericulture processing;
  60. Skinning dyeing and process for manufacturing of leather and leather products;
  61. Stone breaking and stone crushing;
  62. Tobacco processing including manufacturing of tobacco, tobacco paste and handling of tobacco in any form;
  63. Tyre making repairing, re-trading and graphite beneficiation;
  64. Utensils making polishing and metal buffing;
  65. Zari Making (all process).

Hours of period and work

No child shall be required or permitted to work in any establishment in excess of number of hours prescribed (Section-7)

The period of work on each day shall not exceed three hours and no child shall work for more than three hours before he has had an interval for rest for at least one hour. No child shall be permitted or required to work between 7 p.m. and 8 a.m.

No child shall be required or permitted to work overtime. (Section-7).

Penalties

Violations under Section-3 shall be punishable with imprisonment which shall not be less than three months which may extend to one year or with fine which shall not be less than ten thousand rupees but which may extend to twenty thousand rupees or with both. Continuing offence under section (3) shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term which shall not be less than six months but which may extend to two years. Any other violations under 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.

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Recommendation committees related to child labour

Gurupadaswamy Committee 

The Government established the first committee, known as the Gurupadaswamy Committee, in 1979 to investigate the problem of child labour and provide solutions. The Committee thoroughly investigated the issue and provided some comprehensive recommendations. It was noted that attempts to end child labour through legal means would not be feasible as long as poverty persisted since it would be impossible to completely eradicate child labour. The Committee believed that, given the situation, the only viable option was to outlaw child labour in dangerous occupations while regulating and improving working conditions elsewhere. It suggested that in order to address the issues posed by working children, different policy approaches were necessary. The Child labour (Prohibition & Regulation) Act was passed in 1986 as a result of the Gurupadaswamy Committee’s recommendations. The Act restricts the working conditions in several jobs and industries and forbids the employment of children in certain dangerous occupations.

National Commission for Protection of Child Rights 

In accordance with the Commissions for Protection of Child Rights Act, 2005, an Act of Parliament, the National Commission for the Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) was established in March 2007. The National Commission for the Protection of Child Rights is a statutory agency that reports to the Government of India, specifically the Ministry of Women & Child Development. With the aim of ensuring that all laws, policies, programmes, and administrative mechanisms are in line with the child rights paradigm as contained in the Indian Constitution and the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, the commission was founded. This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Corporate-Taxation_696X293-.jpg

Important judicial precedents in relation to child labour

M.C Mehta v. State of Tamil Nadu and others (1996)

The Supreme Court of India issued directives regarding the eradication of child labour in M.C Mehta v. State of Tamil Nadu (1996). The main aspects of the judgement include the following: 
  • Survey to identify children who work; 
  • Withdrawal of children employed in hazardous industries; 
  • Ensuring that children are educated in appropriate institutions; 
  • Contribution of Rs. 20,000/- per child from the violating employers of children to a welfare fund to be established for this purpose;
  • Employment for one adult family member of the child who has been thus withdrawn from work, or if that is not practicable, a donation of Rs. 5,000/- by the state government to the welfare fund;
  • As long as the child is really sent to school, financial help will be provided to the families of the withdrawn children out of the interest income on the Rs. 20,000/- or 25,000/- amount put in the welfare fund;
  • Limiting the number of hours children may work in non-hazardous jobs so that they are guaranteed at least two hours of schooling each day and a daily maximum of six hours of labour. The concerned employer is required to cover the whole cost of schooling.
  • The Ministry of Labour is keeping an eye on how the Supreme Court’s directives are being carried out.

Labourers work on Salal hydro-electric project v. State of Jammu & Kashmir and Others (1983)

In Labourers work on Salal hydroelectric project v. State of Jammu & Kashmir and Others (1983), a bench of Justices P. N. Bhagwati and R. B. Misra ruled that no child under the age of 14 must be employed by any contractor or subcontractor on any factories in the projects. If any contractor or subcontractor uses underage labour, quick instructions for their break must be given right away, and a summary report must be sent regarding punishment.

People’s Union for Democratic Rights v. Union of India (1982)

In People’s Union for Democratic Rights v. Union of India (1982), it was alleged that a small number of minors under the age of 14 were among those working on the Asiad Project’s development in Delhi. It was argued that since the construction industry was not listed in the schedule of the Employment of Children Act (1938), it did not apply to children working in this industry. The Government’s claim was in no way reasonable, according to Bhagwati J. Even though the job is not directly included in the Schedule of the Employment of Children Act, 1938, children under the age of 14 shall not be engaged in construction work since it is a dangerous line of work. It was urged that the State Government take the earliest actions required to schedule the building work under the Act and make sure that Article 24 is not broken in any region of the nation.

Krishnaraj v. The Principal Secretary (2016)

In this case, the Madras High Court emphasised the critical role that the mid-day food programme plays in reducing child labour. The Tamil Nadu Government began implementing the ‘Noon Meal Scheme’ on July 1, 1982. The Court emphasised that it created a path to work with the Government and the Department of Social Welfare and Nutritious Meal Programs on a combined amount of salary/daily pay for those with lower educational qualifications. It went on to add that their main goal was to support the education of children from disadvantaged and underprivileged neighbourhoods and social groups. Additionally, it was designed to address the issues such as child labour, which had plagued the nation both before and after independence, to accomplish the objectives outlined in Article 24.

Court on its own motion v. State of NCT of Delhi (2009)

In Court on its own motion v. State of NCT of Delhi (2009), the Delhi Action Plan to Prevent Child Labour created by the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights, Government of India, has been authorised by the Delhi High Court. The Delhi High Court has further outlined the duties and responsibilities of all parties in this decision.

TMA Pai Foundation v. Union of India (2002)

In the case TMA Pai Foundation v. Union of India (2002), the Supreme Court stated that it is a parent or guardian’s fundamental responsibility to give their children access to educational opportunities. The Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act of 2009, which mandates free and mandatory education for all children aged 6 to 14, was passed by the Parliament in order to codify this advancement in the area of education and recognise it as a fundamental right.

Whether this case involves A v. By way of this appeal (2016)

According to the Gujarat High Court’s ruling in the case of Whether this case involves A v. By way of this appeal (2016), any child/children or their parents/guardians may approach the State Commission for the Protection of Child Rights for ventilating the grievance and appropriate action shall be taken for inquiring into the complaints in accordance with the Commissions for Protection of Child Rights Act, 2005.

Efforts by Government of India to control child labour

The child labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act 1986 prohibits the employment of children below the age of 14 years in 16 occupation and 65 processes that are hazardous to the children’s lives and health. Many states including Haryana have constituted the child labour rehabilitation –cum-welfare funds at district level and separate labour cells are being formed to address the issue. National child labour projects have been implemented by the central government in states from 1988 to provide non-formal education and pre-vocational skills. From 2001, Sarve shiksha Abhiyan has been launched to educate poor and employed children in all states. The Ministry of Women and Child Development has been providing non-formal education and vocational training. The establishment of Anganwadies is also a big step by the government for the welfare of children and their physical, mental and educational development.

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National plans and schemes concerning child labour

Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Amendment Rules, 2017

After significant consultation, the Government of India passed the Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Amendment Rules, 2017. For the prevention, prohibition, rescue, and rehabilitation of child and adolescent workers, the Rules offer a comprehensive and detailed framework. Specific measures have been inserted into the regulations to clarify concerns relating to aid in families, family businesses, and the concept of family with regard to children. The child is not permitted to work more than five times a day and for a total of no more than three hours without a break during school hours or between the hours of 7 p.m. and 8 a.m. Additionally, it offers protection for artists who have been given permission to work under the Act in terms of working conditions and hours. To guarantee the proper execution and compliance with the Act’s provisions, the regulations include explicit provisions embodying the roles and obligations of enforcement authorities.

Right to Education Act of 2009

In accordance with Article 21A of the Indian Constitution, children in India between the ages of 6 and 14 have the right to free and compulsory education. On August 4, 2009, the Indian Parliament passed the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act, also known as the Right to Education Act (RTE). The main features include:
  • Free and compulsory education for all Indian children aged six to fourteen;
  • No child is allowed to be held back, expelled, or forced to pass a test until they’ve finished primary school;
  • A certificate is given to a child who completes elementary school;
  • It demands a set student-to-teacher ratio;
  • It encompasses all of India, excluding Jammu and Kashmir;
  • It gives economically challenged communities a 25% reservation for class one entrance in all private institutions;
  • Further, it imposes requirements for educational quality improvement;
  • The state and the Central Government split the financial burden.

National Child Labour Policy 

  • The action plan for addressing the issue of child labour is included in the National Policy on Child Labour, August 1987. A legislative action plan is what it envisions. As per the policy, general development programmes should be focused on and coordinated to benefit children. In regions with a high concentration of child labour, initiatives should be launched to improve the welfare of working children. 
  • The scheme was launched in 1988 as part of the National Child Labour Policy to rehabilitate child labour. The program aims to use a step-by-step approach, concentrating initially on the rehabilitation of children involved in risky jobs and activities. 
  • In accordance with the scheme, children who are working in dangerous activities or processes must be removed from those jobs or activities and placed in special schools until they can be mainstreamed into the regular educational system. Additionally, it requires the identification of other professions and procedures that are harmful to the health and safety of children.

National Plan of Action for Children, 2005

The National Plan of Action for Children, 2005 pledges to guarantee all children’s rights up to the age of 18. To guarantee that every child may realise his or her innate potential and develop into a healthy and productive citizen, the government should ensure all safeguards and an enabling environment for all children’s survival, growth, development, and protection. This necessitates a relationship with families, communities, the voluntary sector, civil society, and the children themselves, as well as a collective commitment and action from all levels and sectors of government.

Schemes of the department of education  

  • Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan  

The initiative known as Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA) promotes universal elementary education. This initiative aims to provide all children with the chance to develop their human potential by offering them locally owned, high-quality education in a mission mode. Atal Bihari Vajpayee, a former Indian Prime Minister, invented the programme. By 2010, it wanted to educate every child between the ages of 6 and 14.
  • Midday Meal Scheme 

The Midday Meal Scheme is an Indian school meal programme created to improve the nutritional status of students across the country. The programme provides elementary and upper primary students in government, government-aided, local body education centres, and schools funded by the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan and National Child Labour Project schools managed by the ministry of labour with free meals on working days. The Midday Meal Scheme is the biggest programme of its type in the world, feeding 120 million kids in more than 1.27 million schools and Education Guarantee Scheme locations. The noon meal programme was originally introduced in the state of Tamil Nadu.

Schemes of the Ministry of Women & Child Development

  • Integrated Child Protection Scheme 

The Union Ministry of Women and Child Development developed the Integrated Child Protection Scheme (ICPS), a programme that was centrally supported in 2009–2010. The goal of ICPS is to provide children who require care and protection with a safe and secure environment. The plan aims to increase emergency outreach, institutional care, family and community-based care, counselling, and support service systems at the national, regional, state, and district levels by institutionalising key services.
  • Balika Samridhi Yojana 

In 1997, the Central Government announced the Balika Samridhi Yojana. In order to enable the empowerment of female children in the nation, this was done in accordance with the plan for women and child development. It is well acknowledged to be a significant project for promoting female child maternity and education. All girl children in Indian homes who, regrettably, live below the poverty line will be covered by the programme, both in urban and rural regions.

Other social security schemes 

  • Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojana 

The government-run Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojana, sometimes known as the “National Health Insurance Programme,” provides health insurance to the underprivileged in India. The program’s goal is to give unrecognised sector employees who fall under the BPL category health insurance coverage. This programme will also benefit the members of their families.
  • National Family Benefit Scheme  

For the protection of the family, the Central Government established the National Family Benefit Scheme. The major goal of adopting this programme is to provide bereaved families with financial help in the form of a lump sum payment in the event that the principal breadwinner of a family living below the poverty line passes away inadvertently. Basically, this programme is reserved for individuals who are below the poverty line, so that if the breadwinner passes away for any cause, the government may offer financial support to these families to help them get back on track and maintain stability. This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Diploma-in-Labour-Employment-696X293-1.jpg

Recommendations and suggestions for the effective implementation of child labour laws

Suggestions for various organisations

  • The organisations working on various topics should become involved in the campaign by prioritising the issue of child labour. The advertising should emphasise how to apply numerous laws in an efficient manner. Change at the local, provincial, national, and/or worldwide levels should be the goal of the plans.
  • The organisations must tackle the problem of budget analysis and advocate for funding to execute the policy. Majority of the time, policies are developed without enough budgetary support, which has an impact on the implementation process. Budget analysis is a technique for lobbying that helps the public comprehend the government’s policy goals, which will have a stronger effect on individuals with limited political clout. 

NGOs and NPOs

NGOs and non-profit organisations can conduct a comprehensive campaign to disseminate among the civil society organisations through networking to catch the attention of the policymakers, implementers, and community. 

Suggestions for government

  • Poverty eradication

Poverty has an evident association with child labour. Programs to eradicate poverty are essentially given the widening divide between the wealthy and the poor. The development process should include the participation of the poor and the needy. Pro-poor, inclusive policies must be developed and put into effect with a strong political will. 
  • Community action

There is a need to raise public understanding about the need of commencing community action to encourage school enrollment. Education promotes a child’s cognitive, emotional, and social development, and it goes without saying that child labour frequently severely impairs education. We must foster an environment where the community as a whole will no longer accept child labour in any capacity. In order for impoverished parents to become prepared to make the sacrifices necessary to ensure that their children receive an education, there is a need to raise awareness among them.
  • Implementation by local bodies

The institutions of governance at the local level may keep an eye on the policies, programmes, and legislation to make sure that the rights and interests of children are protected. The Gram Panchayat can responsibly identify the projects in the Gram Panchayat regions and distribute job opportunities to the underprivileged. Additionally, it may guarantee that children are involved in and have a say in choices that influence their lives. By actively participating in the Gram Sabha, community monitoring systems must be established. This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Copy-of-Criminal-Litigation-Trial-Advocacy_696X293-ai-1.jpg

Conclusion

If awareness about the cons of child labour is spread across the nation and strict policing of implementation of existing laws are done, India can combat the issue of child labour. Every individual must understand how important it is for the children to grow and study, as they are the ones who will shape the future of the nation.

FAQs

Is working under 18 illegal in India?

Hiring children below the age of 14 years for any kind of work, other than in certain family-based work, is a cognizable offence and will attract a jail term of up to 2 years. Adolescents between the age of 14 – 18 years cannot be employed in any hazardous occupation.

What is the child labour age limit in India?

Article 24 talks about the prohibition of the employment of children in factories, etc. No child below the age of 14 years shall be employed in work in any factory or mine or engaged in any other hazardous employment.

What effects does the pandemic have on the menace of child labour?

All of the measures made to eliminate child labour were undone in the present COVID-19 pandemic scenario when schools are shuttered and parents are unable to find work to support their families. More than 1.5 billion children lost out on attending school as a result of COVID-19 limitations, according to UNICEF. The global labour market has been completely destroyed as a result.

What is the definition of child labour given by ILO?

According to ILO, child labour is defined as “work that harms children’s physical and mental development, and robs them of their youth, their potential, and their dignity.”

How many children are employed as child labourers in India?

Around 12.9 million Indian children between the ages of 7 and 17 are working, according to the ILO. Children who labour or do unpaid labour are less likely to attend school regularly or at all, which keeps them in a cycle of poverty.

How many children are employed as child labourers globally?

According to a recent assessment by the International Labour Organization and UNICEF, there are now 160 million children working as minors globally, an increase of 8.4 million children in the past four years, with millions more in danger owing to COVID-19’s effects.

Is child labour banned in India?

The Constitution of India in the Fundamental Rights and the Directive Principles of State Policy prohibits child labour below the age of 14 years in any factory or mine or castle or engaged in any other hazardous employment (Article 24).

What effects does child labour have in India?

Children who work are denied the opportunity to attend school, which perpetuates a successive poverty cycle. According to census 2011 data, there are 10.1 million child labourers in India, 5.6 million of whom are boys and 4.5 million of whom are girls.

References


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8 COMMENTS

  1. . If there had been no labour, we would have lived in desert, but in our country we most of people are in habit of hating labour. We consider it menial work. We feel shame in doing work with our own hands.

    In advanced countries people do not feel shame in doing work with their own hands, it is why they are on the road of prosperity and progress. In Europe and America mostly all the members of each family work in offices and factories even the women do so. Due to that reason all male and female individuals work for themselves.

  2. A nation cannot prosper materially if the people are not laborious. Labor is at the source of the power of nation. A nation that cannot work hard, nation that does not respect the dignity of manual labour lags behind the progressive nations. After the industrial revolution the people of Europe learnt to work with tools and machines. They manufactured many things and increased the wealth of the country. The material prosperity of a country depends on the progress of its agriculture, industry and trade. Ordinary laborers work in the fields, mines, mills and factories. Their labour leads to the prosperity and power of the country. Thus work is power. For this reason manual labour should be respected and given importance.

  3. I’m a 17 year old teenager and I want to do a part time job out of personal interest but I cant find a proper one no appropriate franchise would hire me (e.g. mcdonalds, merwans) not only a franchise but even a local cake shop wont take me in because of my age saying that the police would arrest him if he hired me and then I realized this is the reason children have to do hazardous and unfit jobs rather then proper ones so shouldn’t something be done about this???

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