Dear Madam / Sir,
Sub. : 1. Submission of Alternative Child Labour Prohibition Bill, 2014
- Recommendations on Child Labour (Prohibition &
Regulation) Amendment Bill, 2012 – regarding
Ref.: Notification of Ministry of Labour and Employment
Greetings from Campaign Against Child Labour (CACL).
Several Civil Society organizations and Federations have come together and prepared an Alternative Child Labour Prohibition Bill, 2014 which is enclosed herewith. We request the Labour Ministry to take this into serious consideration towards total eradication of child labour in all forms upto the age of 18 years.
We acknowledge that the Ministry of Labour and Employment proposes to amend the Child Labour (Prohibition & Regulation) Act, 1986 and is inviting comments.
We held a Consultation on Child Labour (Prohibition & Regulation) Amendment Bill, 2012 on 5th July 2014 in Chennai. The observation and Recommendation of the Parliamentary Standing Committee and the comments of the Ministry of Labour and Employment have been analyzed and studied. This was held in collaboration with UNICEF Office for Tamil Nadu and Kerala.
We support the Parliamentary Standing Committee in recommending that instead of having a fragmented approach on the issue, legislation for each case of child labour, the Government should bring a New Child Labour Policy and Legislation.
We present the Main Recommendations of the Consultation as below.
- As per the National Policy for Children, 2013, ` a child is any person below the age of eighteen years’. Hence a new term `adolescent’ for classification of children is not a required. The term adolescent is not legal a term and it is related only for sociological reasons. Further, India has ratified the United Nation Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) which states in Article 1 that a Child means every human being below the age of 18 years.
- The proposal to link the age of child (in the new Act) with the age defined in The Right of Child to Free and Compulsory Education Act is not acceptable; the age should be linked with the age defined in the National Policy for Children, 2013. Therefore the Right of Children Free and Compulsory Education Act 2009 has to be amended so as to grant this right for free and compulsory education upto 18 years or completion of 12th
Several laws already define the Child as a person who has not completed 18 years of age that include
- The Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2000
- The Prohibition of Child Marriage Act 2006
- The Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act 2012
- The Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act 2005
- It is not acceptable to ‘regulate’ child Labour even after 67 years of Independence. Article 24 of the Constitution of India (Fundamental Rights) read together with Article 14,15,19,21,21A, 23, and Directive Principles Article 39(e) (f), 39(A) , 45,46, 47 illegalises child labour. Child Labour should be prohibited upto 18 years of age in all forms of Employment. Hence we need a Child Labour Prohibition Act, 2014 (CLPA) which civil society organisations have drafted for the union governments consideration. Article 32 of UNCRC enjoins upon the Government of India to recognize the Right of the Child to be protected from economic exploitation and from performing any work that is likely to be hazardous so as to interfere with the child’s education or to be harmful to the child’s health or physical, mental, spiritual, moral or social development.
- Child helping her/his family before or after school hours or during vacations, in fields, home based work forest gathering, animal husbandry should also be prohibited, upto the age of 18 years since it interferes with the child’s right to education, leisure, mental or physical health, moral or social development. There are several evidence that this provision has been misused by employers and the homes have been slowly converted into production places. Therefore, it is not required and would promote indirectly, to engage children in the labour sector. Match industries, beedi making, spinning mills, carpet making and Fireworks are some examples how home based work takes place for lakhs of children.
- The proposal to punish the parents and guardians of the child labourers is not acceptable. The Supreme Court in its judgment in the case of C. Mehta had observed that providing an alternative source of income to the family is a prerequisite for the eradication of child labour and that employment should be provided to an adult in the family in lieu of a working child.
- Employer by whatever name including agent, contractor, occupier etc., should be made the offender and those who facilitate the procurement of child for labour shall be the abettor and face charges of criminal intimidation and conspiracy. Public Servants neglecting to do their duty to prohibit or rescue child labour should also be punished.
- Prohibition should not be limited to prohibition of employment upto 14 years. The Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Amendment Bill, 2012 prohibits children only up to 14 years and upto 18 years only in certain occupations. It also provides for exemption for children below 14 years to work as detailed in the exemption clauses. There should be no exemption clauses or special Schedules detailing prohibited occupations and processes.
- We disagree with the separation between hazardous and non-hazardous. All forms of employment or work that denies Education, Childhood, etc., upto 18 years is hazardous.
- Any employment of children is a Criminal Offence. All those employing children directly or through agents, middlemen, occupier, etc., are liable to being treated as a cognizable and non – bail able offence. Public servants are also punishable for negligence of duties
- Remedies for children employment violating the law prohibiting child labour must include measures for rescue, rehabilitation, compensation, reparation, restitution and right to participation and information in all legal proceedings
- It is also important that other legislation like Mines and Mineral Act, Minimum Wages Act 1948, the Plantations Labour Act 1951, Merchant Shipping Act 1958, Motor Transport workers Act,1961, Factories Act 1948 which prohibits Child Labour upto 14 years must hereafter be amended to prohibit child labour upto 18years.