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Parliament Clears Child Labour Bill
Jul 29, 2016

Employing a child below 14 years of age in any occupation or processes except where the child helps his family will now invite an imprisonment of up to two years as Parliament approved a bill in this regard.

Key Features

  • Both houses of the Parliament passed the Child Labour Bill during the ongoing monsoon session, bringing in a number of amendments to the law from 1986.
  • The Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Amendment Bill makes employment of children below 14 years as cognizable offence for employers and provides for penalty for parents.
  • The Bill defines children between 14-18 years as adolescents and lay down that they should not be employed in any hazardous occupations and processes.
  • It provides for enhanced punishment for violators. The penalty for employing a child has been increased to imprisonment between 6 months and two years (from 3 months to one year) or a fine of Rs 20,000 to Rs 50,000 (from Rs 10,000-20,000) or both.
  • The second time offence will attract imprisonment of one year to three years from the earlier 6 months and two years.
  • According to provisions of the Bill, no child should be employed in any occupation or process except where he or she helps his family after school hours or helps his family in fields, home based work, forest gathering or attends technical institutions during vacations for the purpose of learning.
  • It continues to prohibit children below 14 years to be employed in any profession.
  • It allows them to take part in home-based work, such as helping their families in forests and fields.
  • The amendment also defines children between the ages of 14 and 18 as "adolescents" and permits them to be employed in any profession besides the "hazardous occupations and processes" listed in the 1986 law.

Child Labour in India

Child labourers are exploited, exposed to hazardous work conditions and paid a pittance for their long hours of work. Forced to forego education, shouldering responsibilities far beyond their years, becoming worldly- wise when their peers have yet to leave the cocoons of parental protection, these children never know what childhood is.

A majority of the working children are concentrated in the rural areas. About 60 per cent of them are below the age of 10 years. Business and trade absorb 23 per cent while work in households covers 36 per cent. The number of children in urban areas who work in canteens and restau¬rants, or those engaged in picking rags and hawking goods, is vast but unrecorded.

In a country like India where a large percentage of the population is living in conditions of extreme poverty, child labour is a complex issue. Chil¬dren work out of necessity and without their earnings (however meagre they may be), the standard of living of their families would decline fur¬ther. A large number of them do not even have families or cannot count on them for support. In these circumstances, the alternative to work may be idleness, destitution, or worse, crime.

The child workers have no shelter, no food and no education. They run the risk of contracting various ailments and skin diseases. They are vulnerable to exploitation by almost anyone-the employer, the parents, the cops, and even the common man. They become easy targets of drug pushers.


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