Amendments in Child Labour Law, for allowing adolescent to work in family enterprises of non-hazardous nature, approved by Union Cabinet

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New Delhi: Amendments to the Child Labour Law has been approved by the Union cabinet, where 14 years and above aged children are allowed to work in ‘Non-hazardous’ Industries which are run by the Families.

While approving the proposed amendments on this Wednesday, it was stated on behalf of the Government that, the Social fabric and Socio- Economic conditions of the Country would be prudent to keep in mind while considering the prohibition on Child employment in toto.

While considering the amendments in the Child Labour Prohibition Act, 1986, the Government observed that there are huge number of families in the Country, where it can be seen that the children are working with their parents in their fields, such as agricultural work, artisanship work, etc. and also by doing so such children are getting knowledge about basics of such work.

The Child Labour Prohibition Law, in its original provisions was providing for imposing ban on employment of Children working in only 18 Hazardous industries and 65 processes, those who are below 14 years of their age.

However, helping parents, in the families is made an exception to the rule, and it was observed that such work of helping parents in family enterprises and on farmlands, etc. can be done after the school hours and also during the period of vacations. As such one can look in the approved amendment as it is also in protection of Right to Education, contemplated in the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act, 2009, where children between the age group of 6 to 14 are guaranteed to go to the Schools.

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It is also made clear on behalf of the Government, in the official Statements, that the provisions so amended would long protect adolescents (between the age group of 14 to 18 years) from the employment which is not suitable to their age.

It was believed from the side of Government that the said provisions will serve as a deterrent against the penalizing the employment of the children or Adolescents in breach of the legal obligations.

And employing any Child or Adolescent in the work as in breach of such provisions will entail penal liability and for the first time it will be pushed with imprisonment of not less than 6 months’ term and may up to 2 years and there can be fine also which will between 20,000 rupees to 50,000 rupees. And for subsequent commission of said offence, the penalty will be more than this as provided.

Besides exempting the said work of helping parents in the family enterprises and farmlands, there is also an exemption which was given to the children working as Artists in an Audio-visual entertainment industry, such as Advertisement, Films, Television Serials, etc., however, the circus is excluded from such exemption.

It was seen that the said change in law was opposed by the Child Right Activists, as in their opinion the said dilution will promote child labour.

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by Faim Khalilkhan Pathan.