Prevention Of Child Labour

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In this blogpost, Sonal Srivastava, Student, Amity Law School, Lucknow, writes about the meaning of child labour, places where children are found working and the laws working for Prevention Of Child Labour.

Child labour refers to the employment of children in any work that deprives them of their childhood, interferes with their ability to attend regular school, and that is mentally, physically, socially or morally dangerous and harmful. This practice is considered exploitative by many international organizations.

What is child labour?

Labour is the work done by the worker. Child labor is something that is distinguished from labor per se. Child labour is when a child under the legal age (fourteen) are made to do work that is physically and mentally harmful and which interrupts their education or social development. Child labourers are involved in all type of jobs – agriculture, the sex industry, carpet and textile industry, brick making, construction work, quarrying and many other types of hazardous work.

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Understanding the concept of child labour

Universally the age for considering a person to be child is less than 18 years. Child labour is present everywhere but invisible, toiling as domestic servants in homes, labouring behind the walls of workshops, hidden from view in plantations. But some of us get confused with the light work a child is doing at that age with child labour. A hidden concept behind this the differentiation between

  1. Hazard Work
  2. Decent Work.  
  1. Hazard Work: It implies to the work done by the person of age less than 18 years involving risk. And by the definition set by ILO- International Labour Organisation, ‘Risk= Severity of harm * Probability of harm’.
  2. Decent Work: It refers to the work which is of no harm instead it helps in the all round development of a child. For instance, the children undergoing internships during their adolescent age cannot be defined as child labour, and no preventive laws are meant for such work.

Prevention Of Child Labour

Child labour is a practice of engaging small children in the works either part-time or full-time basis. It is any kind of work that harms children and keeps them away from attending schools. It may have either of characteristics such as violating Nation’s minimum age laws, threatens children’s physical, mental or emotional wellbeing, involve intolerable abuse, forced labour, prevents children from going to school, etc.

Works where children are involved

  • Factories- many children are employed in factories dealing even hazardous substances, in carpet industries, clothing, glass and bricks, etc.
  • Agriculture- Children are often put to work on fields, where they have to harvest crops, they are even involved in commercial agriculture where they are exposed to long hours of extreme heat, temperatures, health risks from pesticides, little or no pay, no adequate food, water, etc.
  • Mining and quarrying- Children often suffer high health risks when they are engaged in underground mines, etc.
  • Domestic Help- Domestic help services are the most common. Children of the age of 7-8 years are kept as domestic help and many times treated very badly, beaten and even subjected to sexual violence.
  • Flesh Trade- young girls of the age of 4-14 years are sold and forced into flesh trade. In such circumstances, they not only lose their childhood but also lose the happiness of their lives.

Laws for protection of children against child labour

  • The Factories Act of 1948- It prohibits employment of children below the age of 14 years in any factory.
  • The Mines Act of 1952– It prohibits the employment of children below the age of 18 years in any mines as it is one of the most dangerous occupations and many accidents have happened in the past where children were severely injured or even killed.
  • The Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act of 1986– According to this Act, children below the age of 14 years cannot be employed for the work involving the use of hazardous substances and the list of the works involving hazardous substances is provided in the Act. According to section 3 of the Act, any person who violates the provisions of the act shall be liable for an imprisonment of not less than 3 months and which can be extended to 1 year or with a fine of rupees 10,000 which may extend to 20,000 rupees or with both.
  • The Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection) of Children Act, 2000– This Act for the first time penalized the offence of child labour. Any person who contravenes the provisions of the Act is penalized with an imprisonment for a certain term and fines or with both.
  • The Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act of 2009– According to this Act, every child up to the age of 14 years is entitled to free education and this being a fundamental right under article 21 Also, there shall be reserved 25% seats in private institutions as well, and no child shall be deprived of education or admission into any school on the grounds of him being from a poor family.

Under the Indian Constitution

For the protection of children and prevention of child labour the constitution of India itself provide many safeguards;

Part 3 of Indian Constitution: Fundamental rights

  • Article 15 – The State shall not discriminate against any citizen…..Nothing in this article shall prevent the State from making any special provisions for women and children.
  • Article 21A- Added by 86th constitutional amendment – The State shall provide free and compulsory education to all children of the age of 6-14 years in such manner as the State may, by law, determine.
  • Article 24- No child below the age of 14 years shall be employed to work in any factory or mine or engaged in any other hazardous employment.

Part 4 of Indian constitution: DPSP

The Directive Principles Of State Policy (DPSP) are guidelines for the framing of laws by the government. These provisions, set out in Part IV of the Constitution, are not enforceable by any court in India, but the principles on which they are based are fundamental guidelines for governance that the State is expected to apply in framing policies and passing laws relating to it.

  • Article 45 – The State shall endeavor to provide early childhood care and education for all children until they complete the age of 6 years.
  • Article 243G read with Schedule 11 – provide for institutionalisation of child care by seeking to entrust programmes of Women and Child development to Panchayat (ITEM 25 of SCHEDULE 11), apart from education (ITEM 17), family welfare (ITEM 25), health and sanitation (ITEM 23), and other items with a bearing on the child welfare.

Other Acts safeguarding the right of children

In order to implement the constitutional and international obligation towards eradication of child labour in different occupations, the following legislative enactments have been in force, and continue after the Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act, 1986. It would be better to appraise various statutes and statutory provisions enacted in the existing labour laws to tackle the problem of child labour.


It applies to plantations in Tea, Coffee, Rubber or Cinchona, etc in which 30 or more persons are employed. It prohibited the employment of children less than twelve years in the plantation.29 The child worker (A person who has completed 15 years) can be allowed to work if employed only between 6 am. and 7 pm.

The Plantation Labour Act, 1951 has now been amended by sec. 24 of Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act, 1986 to bring the age of the child in line with the definition under the said Act.


The Act prohibits the employment of children in any capacity, who are below 14 years of age on sea-going ships, except (a) in a scholarship or training ship; or (b) In a ship in which all persons employed are members of one family; (c) In a homemade ship of less than two hundred ton gross; or (d) Where such person is to be employed on nominal wages and will be in the charge of his father or other adult or a male relative.The Act also makes provision for modest penalty of a fine of Rs. 50/- for violating these provisions.


Minimum age required for employment in every transport undertaking employing five or more workers is 15 years. The State Governments are authorized to apply all or any of the provisions of the Act to any motor transport undertakings employing less than 5 workers. Now as amended by section 26 of the Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act, 1986, by which word ‘fifteenth’ in clauses (a) and (c) of section 2 has been substituted by word ‘Fourteenth’.

Part-III of the Act (Regulation of Conditions of Work)

Part-III of the Act runs from section 6 to 13 deal with regulation of conditions of work of children. This part prescribes the norms for working hours and period of work, weekly holidays, guidelines to deal the disputes as to age, imposed legal responsibility to maintain the register on the occupation and health and safety of the working children.

Part-IV of the Act (Procedure for Prosecution of Offences)

Part-IV of Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act deals with procedure for prosecution of offences and penalties under the Act. It provides a procedure relating to the offences. A positive feature of the Act under section 16 is that :

(a) Any person, police officer or inspector may file a complaint of the commission of an offence under this Act in any court of competent jurisdiction ;

(b) Every certificate as to the age of a 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 to whom it relates ; and

(c) No court inferior to that of a Metropolitan Magistrate or a Magistrate of the First Class shall try any offence under this Act.

The penalties under this Act are relatively more stringent than the earlier Acts and violating the provisions relating to child labour in certain other Acts results in a penalty under this Act.

Present Scenario of Child Labour: Data Analysis

  1. Recent Child Labour Survey (2011) estimates that, 1.68% of 5 to 14 years of age children were engaged in child labour, where, 1.68%=4.35 million of children out of 259.64 million children with age group 5-14 years in India.
  2. Reports by UNICEF estimates that, India may reach the level of the top most country with highest number of child labours ,i.e. 4.35 million.
  3. Also, The International Labour Organization (ILO) estimates that there are more than 200 million children today which are involved in child labour. Some of these children are as young as 5.

Judicial Pronouncements: Origin of preventive laws.

  • Joseph Valamangalam, Rev. Fr v. State of Kerala: [AIR 1958 Ker. 290]

Art.45 was held to be not justiciable, being only directive in nature. The Article does not confer legally enforceable right upon primary schools to receive grants-in-aid from the government.

  • M.C.Mehta v. State of T.N.: [(1991) 1 SCC 283]

The Supreme Court directed that children should not be employed in hazardous jobs in factories for manufacture of match boxes and fireworks, and positive steps should be taken for the welfare of such children as well as for improving the quality of their life.

  • M.C.Mehta v. State of T.N.: [(1996) 6 SCC 756; AIR 1997 SC 699]

The Supreme Court directed that the employers of children below 14 years must comply with the provisions of the Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act providing for compensation, employment of their parents / guardians and their education. Also Bandhua Mukti Morcha v. Union of India [(1997) 10 SCC 549; AIR 1997 SC 2218].

  • Sakshi v Union of India: [(1999) 8 SCC 591]

In this Public Interest Litigation matter, the Supreme Court of India asked the Law Commission to consider certain important issues regarding sexual abuse of children submitted by the petitioner and the feasibility of amendment to 375 and 376 IPC.

Achievements So Far

SL. No. Government Schemes on prohibition of child labour Year
1. IT Platform- PENCIL 1 August, 2017
2. National Child Labour Project (NCLP) 1988
3. National Authority for the Elimination of Child Labour (NAECL) 26 September, 1994
4. National Child Labour Policy 1987
5. Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (Education for All) 2001
6. INDUS: India-US-DOL Project 2001-2009


Steps to take if you see activities relating to child labor around you

Dial to CHILDLINE- 1098

For taking preventive measures to stop the exploitation of a child from the harsh labor which he/she has to undergo the most important step as an individual can take is to dial on the free helpline number of ‘CHILDLINE’- 1098. CHILDLINE is a 24-hour service provider for children at times of need and assistance. Apart from providing emergency services they also link to other organizations for a child’s long-term care and rehabilitation.

Working Procedure

CHILDLINE provides outreach services and works more than counseling a child. It is currently found in 372 cities/ 34 states and UTs and is aiming to establish their centers in more than 600 districts in upcoming years. Each center is assisted with a team of trained youth who within 60 minutes after being contacted rushes to the child. Their working procedure involves contacting to police, Juvenile Welfare Board or a hospital and then providing with rehabilitation to the child.

Generally, no other non-profit children’s helpline provides such an outreach service. It reaches to the children who are: –

  1. Child labourers working in the unorganised and organized sectors
  2. Street children and youth living alone on the streets
  3. Domestic help, especially girl domestics.
  4. Children affected by physical / sexual / emotional abuse in family, schools or institutions.
  5. Children who need emotional support and guidance
  6. Children of commercial sex workers
  7. Child victims of the flesh trade
  8. Victims of child trafficking
  9. Children abandoned by parents or guardians
  10. Missing children
  11. Runaway children
  12. Children who are victims of substance abuse
  13. Differently-abled children
  14. Children in conflict with the law
  15. Children in institutions
  16. Mentally challenged children
  17. HIV/ AIDS infected children
  18. Children affected by conflict and disaster
  19. Child political refugees
  20. Children whose families are in crises.

Individual’s Responsibilities

There are various ways in which one can support CHILDLINE. For instance, one can Volunteer CHILDLINE because under section 35AC a donor is having a profit of 100% tax exemption for donating more than Rs. 5000/- and also under section 80G a 50% of tax exemption for donating less than Rs.5000/-.

  • Call 1098 when you see a child in distress.
  • Tell every vulnerable child you see, about CHILDLINE 1098.
  • Make a donation to CHILDLINE India Foundation to reach more children in more cities for providing rehabilitation.

Contact detail of the child welfare NGOs currently working in India: Name of the NGO’s Contact detail
CRY – Child Rights and You, 189/A Anand Estate, Sane Guruji Marg, Mumbai – 400-011 E-Mail:[email protected] 23063647/3651/1740


   2. CRY – Child Rights and You, Madhavi Mansion 12/3-1, Bachammal Road Cox Town, Bangalore – 560-005 E-Mail:[email protected]

Tel:080-2548 8574/4952/4065

   3. CRY – Child Rights and You, S – 1, 2nd floor, Abdul Rafar Building, No .15/7 , Basha Street, Choolaimedu, Chennai – 600-094 E-Mail:[email protected]Tel :044 -23745545 / 23745547 / 23745549
   4. CRY – Child Rights and You, 632, Lane No.3, Westend Marg, Near Saket Metro Station, Saiyad-ul-Ajaib New Delhi – 110 030 E-Mail :[email protected]
Tel :011-29533451/52/53
   5. CRY – Child Rights and You, 152, Kalikapur, Gitanjali Park, New No. 8,2nd Street, Kolkata – 700 099 E-Mail:[email protected]

Tel :033-2416 0007/8057/8069


Children are the future of any country, and if the future is treated badly then not only the future is shaken but also the present tumbles down. Children should be free to live their childhood and enjoy it rather than being burdened with the responsibilities to raise up their family and even if due to circumstances they are forced to do so, then also they should be given the basic amenities of life as well as childhood such as education, fooding, lodging, clothing and biggest of all “time” to live their childhood. The laws made need to be propagated, and the people should know of these laws so that they can take benefits of the same and, at least, get their children elementary education, protect children from getting socially, physically and mentally abused.

To build a strong nation, the pillars of the nation should be strong, and children are the pillars of a nation, and if they are weak, then the nation also becomes weak.


  1. I have read your article which is regarding the condition of child labour in India. you have mentioned the above point in a very good way. In the future, I also want to change the condition of labour people and also I am very happy to read your article, which means your types of people are available in the world who write or talk openly about this problem because children or youngster is our future. we should not do with these people.
    I have also written an article on child labour. according to our Indian law, nobody can take work from a child who is below 14 years old, this child labour act law was established in 1986. But according to me, this law is published only in the paper not in real life that life example you can see on the road where little children selling pen, pencil and mirror cover.


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