ABOUT THE AUTHOR
This article has been written by Arpit Sharma, a Law student at Vivekananda Institute of Professional Studies, Delhi
"Child" as defined by the child labour (prohibition and regulation) Act 1986 is a person who has not completed the age of 14 years. As a layman we can understand that Child labour is the practice of having children engage in economic activity, on a part- or full-time basis. Every child is a god gift and should be take care of and the childhood can’t go in vain. But unfortunately, due to the socio-economic problems children were forced to work in industries, leather factories, hotels and eatery.
Factors contributing to Child Labour
First among them is the abject economic status of the families or the dominance of poverty. The families with limited economic resources are forced to employ the children into work. Their concern is limited to having a proper meal; and not putting the child on work will mean that there will not be enough food for every member of the family. Adding to this already persistent problem of poverty is the size of the family.
Generally, the mindset of the people is that more the number of people more are the number of working hands. This means that the little income earned by the head of the family is not sufficient to meet the demands of the household due to its increasing size and as a result of which the child is forced to work.
Consequences of child labour
Working in the childhood age has certain adverse effect on mental and physical health of a child such as:
• Right to education is compromised;
• Right to play, leisure and healthy growth is compromised;
• Childhood is compromised;
• Debt Trap and poverty;
Child Labour and Constitutional Framework
The Constitution of India in Article 24 guarantees that no child below the age of 14 years is to be employed in any factory, mine or any hazardous employment.
Further, Article 39 directs the State to form its policy towards ensuring that the tender age of children is not abused and that they are not forced by economic constraints to enter into places unsuited to their age or health.
Further, with the insertion of Article 21-A, the State got entrusted with the duty of providing free and compulsory education to all the children in the age group of 6-14 years.
National Laws against Child Labour
India has a federal form of government, and labour being a subject in the Concurrent List, both the central and state governments can and have legislated on child labour. The major national legislative developments include the following:
The Factories Act of 1948: It prohibits work of children at tender age. Protection of child below the age of 14 years at factory. Also defines time of work for pre adults also.
The Plantation Labour Act, 1951—Children below the age of 12 years are prohibited to work. If a child above 12 years wants to work than it is compulsory to have fitness certificate.
The Mines Act of 1952: It prohibits children till age of 18 years from working as it is very hazardous for a child to work in mines.
The Children Act, 1960—This act makes provision to stop begging of children and punishes for Exploitation of child up to 18 years.
The Child and Adolescent Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act of 1986: It is a punishable offence of employing a child to work. Children only at the age of 14 to 18 years are adolescent and allowed by government to work in non-hazardous work.
The Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection) of Children Act of 2000— Hazardous occupation of a child and making them to forceable work and Bondage is a punishable offence.
The Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act of 2009: Free and compulsory education for all children aged 6 to 14 years. Reservation of 25% seats in private schools for economically weaker sections.
United Nations Declaration of the Rights of the Child: It deals with the special provisions and facilitates to develop physical, moral, mental and moral status.
National Policy on Child Labour in 1987- Works on rehabilitation of children working in hazardous work. Child below age of 14 years shall be employed to work in any factory or in hazardous employment.
Proper safeguards are to be maintained so as to prevent any misuse of the provisions. Proper inspection should be carried out by the Government where the employment of children and adolescents is prohibited. If the amendments intend to seek to preserve Indian art and craft by enabling parents with traditional skills to pass them on to their children, this should be done through reform and investment in education. Proper funding should be made; mid-day meals should be reinstituted; and secure housing should be provided through the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan boarding schools to homeless children. The aim of Government should not only be to make child labour outmoded but also to make it “socially and culturally unacceptable”.