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Guardians of Innocence: Examining the Impact and Evolution of the Child Labour (Prohibition And Regulation) Act 1986

The word "child" is akin to the word "universe." Children are the life force that keeps humanity alive. They are the group most likely to be used unfairly and mistreated (both physically and mentally). A child is denied the necessities and resources for health and education, which are essential for a child's growth and development. Since ancient times, child labor has been used and accepted as normal. According to Article 39 of the Indian Constitution, no kid under the age of 14 is permitted to work in any mine or factory.

A child should never work in any hazardous conditions. However, child labor has continued to be the major issue in the country for many years. the route taken by society. The most significant and abhorrent way that children's rights are violated nowadays is through child labor. Although it is not a new problem, the abuse of children's rights has recently attracted attention due to the expansion of human rights.

Many international organisations like the International Labour Organisation (ILO), UNICEF, etc. are working dedicatedly to protect the interests of children and facilitate them with basic amenities like education. Article 21A deals with compulsory education for children. The Government of India had promulgated the legislation of The Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act, 1986 to regulate provisions related to child labour practices in India.

The Government made substantial changes in the provisions of the Act in the year 2016 and from thereon a complete prohibition has been imposed on the employment of children who are below the age of 14 years. Many provisions have been made under the Act regarding the employment for the children who are above the age of 14 years.

The Declaration of the Rights of Child, 1959
The General Assembly of the United Nations adopted the Declaration of the Rights of the Child in 1959. The 1959 Declaration of the Rights of the Child established children's rights for the first time. The Geneva Declaration on the Rights of the Child is another name for the declaration, which was written by Eglantyne Jebb. The Declaration is a document that contains children's rights. The League of Nations initially adopted it in 1924, and the United Nations did so in 1959.

  1. The youngster must be given all the resources necessary for their healthy development.
  2. A youngster must be fed and given medical attention if they are found to be unwell or hungry.
  3. A child who is regressing or acting out has to be assisted and recovered.
  4. If a child is an orphan or has been abandoned, refuge should be given to them.
  5. Children must always receive aid first in times of need.
  6. When children are given the opportunity to support themselves, they must be shielded from all forms of exploitation.
  7. The importance of using one's gift for the benefit of one's fellow humans must be emphasized to youth.
This document was endorsed by the League of Nations General Assembly in 1924 as the World Child Welfare Charter. It was reaffirmed in 1934 by the League of Nations General Assembly.

The International Convention on the Rights of the Child, 1989
A human rights convention from 1989 called the International Convention on the Rights of the Child includes children's rights in relation to civil, political, social, health, and cultural rights. The Convention defines a child as a person who is younger than the age of eighteen, unless the legislation that applies to the child establishes a different age as the age of majority.

According to international law, the countries that ratified the Convention are required to abide by it, and the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child monitors compliance. The United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child must receive reports from the countries that have ratified the convention. The Committee examines how well each nation is doing at implementing the Convention on the Rights of the Child in its own country. In order to safeguard children's interests, the Convention aims to uphold their fundamental rights and needs.

Even if parents are not together, a kid has the right to life, which includes the right to identification and the right to have both parents raise him or her. By requiring parents to fulfil all of their duties as parents towards their kid, the Convention aims to protect these children's rights. Children are shielded by the Convention from all forms of exploitation and intrusion.

A child's perspective must be taken into consideration while resolving disputes involving children, and each situation must be handled carefully. A youngster cannot be given the death penalty by the court. Nations have a responsibility to ensure no kid is subjected to inhumane or cruel punishment.

Rights of Child and The Indian Constitution
According to the Indian Constitution, the rights are ensured to the citizens of the country. The children are also given rights under the Constitution as they are considered citizens of the country. Considering their special status, special provisions are made for children under the Constitution. The Government can make special provisions for the protection of the rights of children.

The leading amendment made for the protection of the rights of children is the 86th Constitutional Amendment i.e. Right to Education. Right to Education was made a Fundamental Right in order to protect the basic right of children to receive an education. 86th amendment guarantees the following:
  • The right to free elementary education that was made compulsory under Article 21 A of the Indian Constitution.
  • Right to protection till the age of fourteen years from any kind of hazardous employment which is provided under Article 24 of the Indian Constitution.
  • Article 39(e) of the Constitution protects children from any kind of abuse or forced employment which is not suitable for their age and ability.
  • The children are provided with equal opportunities, facilities, freedom, dignity, and protection under Article 39 (f) of the Indian Constitution.
  • Article 45 of the Constitution ensures early childhood care and education to the children until the age of 6 years.

Prohibition of Employment of Children in certain occupations and processes
Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act, 1986 aims to eradicate any kind of child abuse in the form of employment and prohibit the engagement of children in any kind of hazardous employment, who have not completed 14 years of age. The Act prohibits the employment of children in certain occupations and processes.

The occupations which are prohibited are mentioned in the Act under the Schedule in Part A. The prohibited occupations for children under 14 years are:� Occupations that are related to the transport of passengers, goods or mails by railway;

Permissible Occupations for Children

  • Cinder picking, clearing of an ash pit or building operation in the railway premises;
  • Working in a catering establishment which is situated at a railway station and if it involves moving from one platform to another or from one train to another or going into or out of a moving train;
  • The occupation which involves work related to the construction of a railway station or any other work where such work is done in close proximity to or between the railway lines;
  • Any occupation within the limits of any port;
  • Work which involves the selling of crackers and fireworks in shops having a temporary license;
  • Working in Slaughterhouses.

Prohibited Processes for Children Under 14 Years

  • The process involving the making of Bidi;
  • The process which involves carpet-weaving;
  • Manufacturing cement or bagging of cement;
  • The processes such as Cloth printing, dyeing, and weaving;
  • The processes that involve the manufacturing of matches, explosives, and fireworks;
  • Mica-cutting and splitting;
  • Any manufacturing process such as shellac manufacture, soap manufacture, tanning;
  • The process of wool-cleaning;
  • Work that is related to the building and construction industry;� Manufacture of slate pencils;
  • Manufacture of products from agate;
  • Manufacturing processes in which toxic metals and substances such as lead, mercury, manganese, chromium, cadmium, benzene, pesticides and asbestos are used;
  • Cashew and Cashew Nut descaling and processing;
  • Soldering processes in electronic industries.

The Act in total prohibits approximately 13 occupations and 51 processes for the employment of children. Article 24 of the Indian Constitution includes the provision for the prohibition of employment of children in factories. The Act also lays down certain guidelines for employers, which is to be followed in case the employee is a child of age less than 14 years. According to the Act, the employer cannot make a child employee work between 7 p.m. and 8 a.m. and no overtime is allowed for them.

It is not allowed for an employer to make a child work for more than 3 hours without an interval of at least one hour and in total, an employer should not make a child work for more than six hours a day. Adequate provisions must be made by the employer for the health and safety of the child employees. Basic facilities such as drinking water, toilets, disposal of waste, ventilation, etc must be provided by the employer.

The employer needs to notify the Factory Inspector if in case he employs a child for employment. Production of age certificate of the child employee is also needed according to the rules of the Act.

Power to Amend the Schedule
The Schedule may be amended by the Central Government with publication of a notification in the Official Gazette. The notification for such a modification must be made at least three months in advance. The notice may be made by adding any procedure or employment to the schedule via notification. It is presumed to have been modified as necessary after such notice is submitted to the Official Gazette to add any occupation or procedure.

Child Labour Technical Advisory Committee:
By publishing a notice about it in the Official Gazette, the Central Government may, if it determines that it is essential, establish an advisory group known as the Child Labor Technical Advisory group. The Committee will convene as often as they see necessary, and their meetings will follow a set protocol that they will decide on. The Committee may itself constitute one or more sub-committees if they feel a need to do so. The Chairman and other members of the Committee are entitled to an allowance.

Fall of child labour in previous years
From 2006 to 2014
The Government implemented schemes like MNREGA, Mid-day meal, and Right to Education to combat child labour, providing stricter norms and facilities for education. NGOs spread awareness and campaigns like'save the children' and'stop child labour' mainstreamed laborers into schools.

2015 onwards
Starting in 2012, campaigns and awareness led to a 59% decrease in child labor cases between 2001 and 2011, with rescue missions saving around 1650 children in 2014-15

2019 onwards
India's child population aged 5-14 is 259.6 million, with 3.9% working as marginal workers. Over 42.7 million children are not in school. In 2019, 10,826 cases of Child Labour Act violations were reported, but only 56% were prosecuted.

Strategies and laws adopted after the rise in child labour India faces numerous cases of child labour, with every fourth child aged 5-14 being involved. Despite this, the Indian government has taken steps to prevent child labour, passing various laws over the past decade.
  • The Factories Act 1948 : The child below 15 years of age is not allowed to work in factories.
  • The Minimum Wages Act 1948: The person who has not completed the age of 14 is termed a child and hence is prohibited from working as labour.
  • The Plantation Labour Act 1951: The Act mentions the age restriction on labour. Hence, preventing child labour.
  • The Mines Act 1952: As per the Constitution, the Mines Act has put a bar on the age limit. The Act doesn't allow children less than 14 years to work.
  • The Child Labour Act 1986: The Act has especially be made to protect the rights and stop the exploitation of children in work industries.
  • The Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act 2009: The Act emphasises the rights and needs of children with respect to education. Free and compulsory education is made mandatory for children of a certain age. Hence, it helps in the decrease of child labour.
India has participated in the following events:
  • ILO Abolition of Forced Labour Convention ( No. 105)
  • World Declaration on the Survival
  • ILO Forced Labour Convention(No. 29)
  • Development and Protection of Children

To propose actions and address the issue of child labourers, India formed its first board to resolve the matter of child labour in the country. The board was introduced in 1979. The duty of the board was to examine the troubles and issues of child labour in the industries. The board believed that the issue could not be removed in its entirety. So, it would be impractical on the part of the board to think that they can vanish the issue.

The board took a realistic approach to reduce the problem of child labour. The board found a way to prohibit child labour in unsafe areas. On the recommendations of the board, the team implemented and proposed the Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act of 1986.

Girl Child Labour
The contribution of girl child labour doesn't contribute to the majority of child labour but it is a significant part of the number. The world doesn't see household work as a job or labour. A girl is expected to do household work, which is considered to be work that every girl should know how to do. In many areas, a girl child is deprived of education and health facilities and is forced to do household work.

The parents of the girl child don't seem to be investing in her education because they believe that she will be married one day. Many times, the girl child is made to do work in other houses to earn money for the family. Since the girl child lacks education and required literacy, she is made to do inexpert jobs at low rates. The girl child ends up growing into a woman who is broken and doesn't see her work to be of economic benefit and undervalues herself.

A report issued by the Andhra Pradesh Rights Advocacy Foundation (AP CRAF) showed worldwide data of around 145 million children being involved in child labour. Out of this data, there was a significant contribution of girl child labour. If we break down this data, then we can see that in the first class, 39% of child labour is girls. 93 million children are between the ages of 5- 14 years. In the second class of children between the ages of 14- 18 years, there are around 69.2 million, of which 42% are girls.
The category of girl child labor includes the following jobs:
  • Home-based work
  • Non-economic activities that are below the eyes of the law
  • Long working hours
  • Less pay
  • Poor working conditions
  • No skills arrangement
  • Physical cruelty
  • Sexual nuisance

The girl child ratio in rural and urban areas is of 4:1 i.e. 80% of girl child labour resides in rural areas and 20% in urban areas. A girl child in rural areas is usually made to work in agricultural and household activities; whereas, in the urban sector, the girl child labourer is pushed into informal and unorganised places, which include factories and cottage industries.

So, in general, a girl child labourer works in the following sectors and conditions:
  • Domestic Service: 1. wherein the girl child is subject to physical and sexual abuse; wherein the girl child is made to do work for long working hours and is not given even sick leave and proper food.
  • Agricultural Area: wherein the girl child does extensive labour work, which is not good for a growing adolescent girl's health and is exposed
    to harmful chemicals and hazardous types of machinery
  • Streets of Urban cities: wherein girls are made to do jobs like rag picking, begging, vendors, and even as sex workers
  • Home of rich people: wherein the girl child is subject to taking care of the babies and doing household chores like cleaning, washing clothes, and preparing food. This kind of labour is usually hidden and doesn't come into the picture so easily.
  • Bonded labourers and export industries: wherein the girl child is subject to outright slavery

Regulation of Conditions of work of children
There are certain regulations provided under the Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act, 1986 which the employer needs to follow while employing a child in the establishment. Proper work conditions are to be provided by the employer.

Application of Work
The provisions of this Part of the Act shall apply to an establishment or any class of establishments in which the occupations or processes which are referred to in Section 3 are not being carried on.

Hours and Period of Time
establishments in any establishment. The establishment will choose the amount of hours, and a young employee cannot work for longer than three hours straight without a break of an hour. A child employee may not work more than six hours per day overall. Additionally, there must be a one-hour break in the six hours. The Act states that no employer may require a child employee to work between the hours of 7 p.m. and 8 a.m., and no employer may allow the child employee to work further hours. Suppose a child shall not be allowed to work in another establishment on the same day if they have previously worked in one

Weekly Holidays
Every child working in an establishment must be given a holiday every week by law. The vacation must last the entire day. The day of the week that the establishment's employees will have a holiday must be chosen, and a notice of the holiday must be posted in a prominent location within the business. The notice must be permanent and may not be changed more frequently than once every three months.

Notice to InspectorThe occupier of an establishment where a child is employed or permitted to work must give notice to the inspector whose local limits the establishment is located if the employer of the establishment employs a child employee. The required notification must be in writing.

It must include the information below:
  1. the name of the business and the location where it is located
  2. the name of the establishment's manager,
  3. the establishment's postal address,
  4. the specifics, such as the type of work that is done or the technique that is used in the establishment.
  5. Every employer must provide a warning within 30 days if they allow a youngster to work in their facility to the Inspector whose local jurisdiction includes the institution. The provisions of Sections 7, 8, and 9 of the Act do not apply to an institution where a procedure is carried out by the occupier with the assistance of the government or where it obtains support or recognition from the government for it.
Dispute as to Age
In case if a question arises between an Inspector and an occupier on the age of the child who was permitted to work by the occupier in an establishment then the Inspector can prescribe a medical authority to decide on the age of such a child in case of absence of an age certificate.

Maintenance of Register
Children who are employed or permitted to work in the occupier's establishment must be listed in a register that is kept by the occupier. The register must include the following information and be kept on hand by the occupier at all times:
  1. the children's names and birthdates who work for the occupier;
  2. how many hours and how long the child employee is required to work;
  3. the type of employment and the tasks assigned to the kid employee;

Other details that may be required.
Display of Notice Containing Abstract of Sections 3 and 14

Every occupier of the establishment is required to post a notice containing an abstract of Sections 3 and 14 of the Act in a visible and easily accessible location within the establishment. If the employer is a port authority or railway administration, the notice must also be posted in a visible and easily accessible location at each station, as the case may be. Both an English translation and a localized version of the notice are required.

Health and SafetyThe Government may by giving a notification to the Official Gazette make rules for the health and safety of the children who are employed or permitted to work in an establishment or any class of establishments if the Government feels necessary to do so. According to the Act, the rules which must be followed by the establishment for the purpose of safety and cleanliness are as follows:
  • The cleanliness of the place of work must be taken care of and it should be free from any kind of nuisance;
  • There must be a proper place for disposal of wastes and effluents;
  • Proper provisions for ventilation should be made and an adequate level of temperature should be maintained in the place of work;
  • Provisions should be made to reduce dust and fumes;
  • Artificial humidification shall be made;
  • Lighting must be proper in the place of work;
  • Drinking water must be provided;
  • Toilets must be made in the place of work for the employees;
  • Spittoons should be provided in order to keep the workplace clean;
  • The machines which are in the workplace should be fenced properly;
  • Children must not be allowed to work near machinery which is in motion;
  • Children must not be permitted to work on dangerous machines;
  • Children must be instructed, trained and supervised in relation to the employment of children on dangerous machines;
  • Device for cutting off power should be used;
  • Self-acting machines should be used in the workplace;
  • Easing of new machinery;
  • Proper floors should be made and proper means to access through stairs shall be made;
  • Pits, sumps, openings in floor shall be made;
  • Child employees shall not be permitted to lift excessive weights while working;
  • Protection for eyes must be provided;
  • Children must not be exposed to explosives or inflammable dust, gas, etc;
  • In case fire is used in work, proper precautions must be taken;
  • Proper maintenance of buildings and machinery shall be taken.

When an employer hires a child or permits a child to work in violation of Section 3's rules, that employer may be punished with both imprisonment for a term that may reach a year and a fine that must be at least ten thousand rupees and possibly as much as twenty thousand rupees, or both.

Anyone found guilty of the aforementioned offense under Section 3 and who commits the same crime again in the future shall be punished with a term of imprisonment that must not be less than six months and may not exceed two years.

If an employer violates any other provisions of the Act or any rules made thereunder, or fails to comply with any of the requirements of Section 9 or Section 11 of the Act, or fails to display a notice containing an abstract of Section 3, or fails to give a notice as required by Section 9 or fails to maintain a register containing the details of child employees as required by Section 11 of the Act, he will be fined simply immoral.

Modified Application of Certain Laws in relation to penalties In case a person is found guilty and is convicted of a contravention of any of the provisions which is mentioned in the Act, then he shall be liable to pay penalties as per sub-sections (1) and (2) of Section 14 of this Act.

The provisions which are referred to in Section 14(1) of the Act are as follows:
  • Section 67 of the Factories Act, 1948
  • Section 40 of the Mines Act, 1952
  • Section 109 of the Merchant Shipping Act, 1958
  • Section 21 of the Motor Transport Workers Act, 1961

Procedure Relating to Offences:
A complaint can be made against an employer for violating the Act by a police officer, inspector, or any other person. Any court with jurisdiction over the matter may receive a complaint under this Act. Every certificate of a child's age issued by a recognized medical authority will be taken into consideration as conclusive proof of the employee's age in situations where the age of the kid in question is in dispute. A Metropolitan Magistrate or a Magistrate of the First Class must preside over the trial of any matter involving an offense against this Act.

Appointment of Inspectors
  • The Government may appoint Inspectors for the purposes of securing compliance with the provisions of the Act and any Inspector who is appointed by the Government for such a purpose shall be deemed to be a public servant within the meaning of the Indian Penal Code.
  • Power to Make Rules
    • The Government may make rules subject to previous publication by giving notification in the Official Gazette.
    • The rules may provide provisions on the following matters:
      • The term of office of the Chairman and members of the Committee, or the provisions related to the manner of filling casual vacancies, or provisions related to allowances payable to the Chairman and members of the Child Labour Technical Advisory Committee.
      • Number of hours for which a child may be required or permitted to work under Section 7 (1) of the Act.
      • Rules related to grant of certificate when the question arises as to that of the child employee. A charge may be made for the certificate by the Government for issuing such a certificate. No charges must be made for the issue of a certificate if the application for such a certificate is accompanied by evidence of the age of the child.
      • Rules related to the particulars of the register which is to be maintained by the occupier who permits a child to work according to Section 11 of the Act.

Rules and notifications to be laid before the Parliament or State legislature Every rule which is made by the Government under this Act and every notification which is issued under Section 4, shall be laid before each House of Parliament as soon as possible. The rules and notifications must be laid before the Houses of Parliament while they are in session for a period of 30 days. It may be comprised in one session or in two or more successive sessions.

If both houses agree jointly on a modification that is to be made in the rule or notification, then such notification or rule can be made or issued only when such a modification is made otherwise, the rule or notification cannot be made at all. The rules made by the Government under this Act shall come into practice as soon as it is made.

Certain provisions of law not barred Subject to the provisions which are mentioned in Section 15 of the Act, the provisions of this Act and the Rules made by the Government under this Act shall be in addition to and not in derogation of the existing provisions of the Factories Act, 1948 (63 of 1948), the Plantations Labour Act, 1951 (69 of 1951) and the Mines Act, 1952 (35 of 1952).

Power to remove difficulties
In case, if any difficulty arises in giving effect to the provisions of the Act, then the Government may make such provisions which are not inconsistent by order published in the Official Gazette, make such provisions not inconsistent with the provisions of this Act by an order which shall be published in the Official Gazette. The order which shall be published shall not be made after the expiry of a period of three years from the date on which the Act received the assent of the President. Every order that is made under section 21 of this Act shall be laid before the Houses of Parliament as soon as it may be possible.

Repeal and Savings
The Employment of Children Act, 1938 was repealed by the Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act, 1986. Notwithstanding such repeal, anything that is done or any action that has been taken or claimed to have been done under the Act which has been repealed, then, in so far as the provisions of the repealed Act is not inconsistent with the provisions of this Act shall be deemed to have been done or taken under the corresponding provisions the present Act.

Amendment of Act 11 of 1948
Through the Amendment of Act 11 of 1948, the word 'adolescent', 'adult', 'child' was defined in Section 2 of the Minimum Wages Act, 1948. According to the Amendment, 'adolescent' refers to a person who has completed 14 years of age but did not complete 18 years of age. 'Adult' refers to a person who has completed 18 years of age. 'Child' refers to a person who has not completed 14 years of age.

Amendment of Act 69 of 1951
Amendment of Act 69 of 1951 was made in Section 2, Section 24 and Section 26 of the Plantations Labour Act, 1951. In Section 2 the word 'fifteenth' was substituted with the word 'fourteenth'. Section 24 and Section 26 of the Act were omitted. The words 'who has completed his twelfth year' in Section 26 of the Act were omitted.

Amendment of Act 44 of 1958
Through the Amendment of Act 44 of 1958, the word 'fifteen' was substituted with the word 'fourteen' in Section 109 of the Merchant Shipping Act, 1958. Amendment of Act 27 of 1961Amendment of Act 27 of 1961 was made in Section 2 of the Motor Transport Workers Act, 1961. The word 'fifteenth' was substituted with the word 'fourteenth'.

Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulations) Amendment Act, 2016
The Act was amended in the year 2016 and some new provisions were brought in. As per the amendment, there will be stricter punishments for employers who violate the Act and its guidelines. The offence is cognisable if an employer employs any child in contravention of the Act. The amendment covered the 18 occupations along with 65 processes of the 1986 Act.

Case Laws:
Court On Its Own Motion v. The State of Jharkhand (2016)
In this case, the petitioner complained about the issue of child labour in the state. The petitioner addressed the issue and contended that the state has not disclosed anything about how it is going to cope with the situation of child labour in the state. The high court in return had directed the state to issue a report that tells how many schemes and what steps are taken by the government.

Jayakumar Nat v. State of NCT of Delhi (2015)
In this case, the Delhi High Court put emphasis on the issue of child labour rehabilitation. The Court has asked the government of Delhi to come up with schemes and form policies for proper rehabilitation of the rescued child labourers. The Court has further added that the state shall provide the children's parents with the economic help that is required and not force the children to work as child labourers again to meet the economic needs of the family.

Roshan Gupta v. The State of Bihar (2012)
In this case, the petitioner was imposed a fine of Rs. 20,000 and claims that he wasn't given a chance to explain the circumstances under which the child was working in his shop. The Court imposed a fine on him on the basis that he had employed child labour in his shop, which was against the Child Labour Act.

The writ petition was disposed off with the punishments and court orders.

Bachpan Bachao v. Union of India (2010)
In this case, the Delhi High Court decided the duties and responsibilities of the committees that have been formed for the protection of the interests of the children. The Commissions were directed to hear the matters related to the abusive workinh environment wherein the child faces physical abuse as well as mental for the age group of 14- 18 years. The commissions shall also look into the absence of the basic requirement of medical care and food requirements. The bench directed these commissions to determine their objectives and plan of action within 30 days of this judgment.

Bandhua Mukti Morcha v. Union of India (1995)
In this case, a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) was filed to protect the interests of children below the age of 14 years. It was alleged that these children were made to work in the carpet industry as child labourers. The reports of the commissions also showed that a high number of children below the age of 14 were employed in the industry of Uttar Pradesh.

Most of these children were the SCs and STs of Bihar. The Court directed the State to provide the socioeconomic justice to these children and provide proper opportunities for their personality development.

TMA Pai Foundation v. Union of India (2002)
In this case, the Court held that it is the duty of the parents and guardians to provide the children with the opportunities for free education. The parliament enacted the Act for free and compulsory education in the year 2009 in accordance with this judgment.

Child labour during COVID-19
In the past two decades, India has seen a significant decrease in child labour. However, the COVID-19 pandemic brought back the fear of an increase in child labour again. The International Labour Organisation (ILO), along with the United Nations Children's Fund, gave a joint report which showed that a rise of around 1% in poverty leads to a rise of 0.7% in child labour.

As per the International Labour Organisation (ILO), there is an expectation that 60 million people will fall into the category of poverty, which will directly affect the child labour ratio. Because whenever a family gets below the poverty line, they are forced to send every capable family member out to earn money.

In March 2020, there were 2473 interventions related to child labour. The numbers came down to 446 in April but rose to 734 in May. The number of cases didn't show the exact number of child labour. However, the dip might reflect the disruption of the normal reporting processes and investigation of the child labour cases caused due to the pandemic. There were 3653 interventions for child labour across the country, as reported on the child helpline number.

The further breakdown of this data was into:
  • Begging- 35%
  • Hazardous activities - 21%
  • Restaurants - 14%
  • Domestic worker - 10%
  • Family Units - 8%
  • Bonded labourers - 4%

On 29 August 2020, the District Task Force of Ludhiana rescued 13 child labourers from two factories in Punjab.

The Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act, 1986 prohibits children from working in hazardous employment. The Act provides a minimum age limit for employment as 14 years. The provision of the Act has helped in reducing the rate of child employment in India.

It has reduced various hazardous risks to which child employees are exposed at the workplace as well as the exploitation by laying down the provisions for maximum number of hours or period of work and various other related issues. The Act has played an important role in reducing hazardous employment for children in India.

If it is found that the employer is employing a child in contravention of the provisions of the Act then, such employer will be liable for punishment which includes imprisonment or fine or both. Although the Act has reduced the number of child labors, this evil is still lingering in our society due to the socio-economic issues i.e. poverty and illiteracy and for overcoming the evil of child labor, collective responsibility has to be taken up by the society at large as Justice Subba Rao, the former Chief Justice of India rightly said that:
"Social justice must start with the child. Until and unless a tender plant is properly tended and nourished, it has a small chance of growing into a strong and useful tree. So, the first preference in the plate of justice should be stated to the well-being of children.

  1. Basu, K. "The intriguing relation between adult minimum wage and child labour," in The Economic Journal, Vol 110, No 462, (Mar 2000), Oxford: Blackwell Publishers.
  2. Bonnet, M. "Que penser du travail des enfants?" in Etudes, Paris: Assas Editions No. 3944 (avril 2001).
  3. Boonpala, P. and J. Kane. Trafficking of Children: The Problem and Responses Worldwide. Geneva: ILO/IPEC, 2001.
  4. Dorman, P. "Child labour in the developed economies". Geneva: ILO-IPEC working paper, 2001.
  5. Fassa, A.G., et. al. "Child labor and health, problems and perspectives" in International Journal of Occupational and Environmental Health, Vol 6, No 1, Jan-Mar 2000, Philadelphia.
  6. Gupta, M. R. "Wage determination of a child worker, a theoretical analysis", in Review of Development Economics, Vol 4, No 2 (June 2000), Oxford: Blackwell Publishers.
  7. Harcourt,W. "Children and the new millennium" in Development, Vol 43, No 1, Mar 2000, Oxford: Blackwell Publishers.
  8. Haspels, N. and Michele Jankanish, editors. Action against Child Labour. Geneva: ILO, International Programme on the Elimination of Child Labour Geneva, 2000.

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