Union Cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on 13 may 2015 approved official amendments to the Child Labour (Prohibition & Regulation) Amendment Bill, 2012.
The official amendments along with the Amendment Bill 2012 seeks to amend the Child Labour (Prohibition & Regulation) (CLPR) Act, 1986 and allows children below the age of 14 years to work in select non-hazardous family enterprises
Following official amendments have been approved by the Cabinet:
- It prohibits employment of children below 14 years in all occupations and processes and links the age of prohibition of employment to age under Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act, 2009. However, it will not prohibit
- a child helping his family or family enterprise, which is other than any hazardous occupation or process, after his school hours or during vacation; and
- a child working as artist in an audio-visual entertainment industry, except the circus, provided that the school education of the child is not affected.
- It introduces a new definition of adolescent in the CLPR Act and prohibits the employment of adolescents (14 to 18 years of age) in hazardous occupations and processes.
- It provides for stricter punishment for employers for violation of the CLPR Act has been proposed to act as a deterrent:
- In case of first offence of employing any child or adolescent in contravention of the Act, penalty would be imprisonment for a term not less than six months, which may extend to two years or with fine not less than 20000 rupees which may extend to 50000 rupees or with both.
- In case of a second or subsequent offence of employing any child or adolescent in contravention of the Act, the minimum imprisonment would be one year which may extend to three years.
- It makes the offence of employing any child or adolescent in contravention of the Act by an employer a cognizable offence.
- There would be no punishment in case of a first offence by the parents/guardians and in case of a second and subsequent offence; the penalty would be a fine which may extend to 10000 rupees. This amendment is introduced in light of socio-economic conditions of parents/guardians.
- It provides for constitution of Child and Adolescent Labour Rehabilitation Fund for one or more districts for the rehabilitation of the child or adolescent rescued.
Why the need for amending CLPR Act, 1986?
Firstly, the official amendments along with Amendment Bill, 2012 seeks to strike a balance between the need for education for a child and the reality of the socio-economic condition and social fabric in the country.
Secondly, the socio-economic milieu of India is such that, on the one hand, children help their parent especially in occupations like agriculture, artisanship etc. and on the other, they learn basics of occupation while helping the parents.
Thirdly, the Child Labour (Prohibition & Regulation) Act (CLPR Act) 1986 was not in sync with the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act, 2009 that enjoins the State to ensure free and compulsory education to all children in the age group of 6 to 14 years. A corollary to this would be that if a child is in the work place, he would miss school.
Lastly, CLPR Act was not in conformity with the International Labour Organisation (ILO) Conventions 138 and 182, which provide for minimum age of entry into employment and prohibition of employment of persons below 18 years, in work which is likely to harm health, safety and morals.
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