The Union Cabinet today gave its approval to official amendments to the Child Labour (Prohibition & Regulation) Amendment Bill, 2012. The Child Labour (Prohibition & Regulation) Act (CLPR Act) 1986 bans employing children as labor in 18 occupations and 65 processes. The Act also regulates working condition of children in other occupations and processes. A person who is less than 14 years of age is considered to be child under the Act.
The Official Amendments along with the Amendment Bill 2012 proposes to make amendments to the Child Labour (Prohibition & Regulation) Act, 1986. As per the amendments approved, the restriction on employing children less than 14 years of age has been linked to Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act, 2009. However, exception has been provided for the same. The exception includes,
“a) where the child helps his family or family enterprises, which is other than any hazardous occupations or processes set forth in the Schedule, after his school hours or during vacations;
b) where the child works as an artist in an audio-visual entertainment industry, including advertisement, films, television serials or any such other entertainment or sports activities except the circus, subject to such conditions and safety measures, as may be prescribed and provided that such work does not affect the school education of the child.”
Moreover, the official amendments seek to incorporate definition of 'adolescent' in the Act. An adolescent will be a person having an age of 14-18 years and they will not be allowed to work in hazardous industries.
The amendments also seek to incorporate stricture punishment for offenses. “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 but which may extend to two years or with fine not less than Rs.20,000/-, but which may extend to Rs.50,000/- 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.”
Moreover, the government also seeks to make the offenses relating to employing children and adolescents as cognizable offenses, thereby increasing the fear factor in mind of the persons employing children.
Regarding punishment to parents and guardians, considering the social-economic fabric of India, the amendments state that the first offense will not carry a punishment. However, on the second and subsequent times, the penalty would be a fine which may extend to Rs.10,000.
Constitution of Child and Adolescent Labour Rehabilitation Fund has also been envisioned which will provide for a fund to carry out rehabilitation activities.
The amendments will be introduced in the law as “the CLPR Act is not aligned to the RTE Act as it permits employment of child below 14 years in occupations/processes not prohibited. Further, CLPR Act is 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.”