[Polity] Child Labour Prohibition Act (1986)

One of the most debated Act of the Constitution has been the Child Labour Prohibition Act (1986). This Act provides for prohibition of the engagement of children in certain areas of work and for the regulations for the working conditions of children.

Definition :-

“Child labour is the practice of having children engage in economic activity, on part or full time basis. The practice deprives children of their childhood and is harmful to their physical and mental development”

The act defines a child as any person who has not completed his fourteenth year of age.

Part II of the act prohibits children from working in any occupation listed in Part A of the Schedule; for example:
  • Catering at railway establishments,
  • construction work on the railway or anywhere near the tracks,
  • plastics factories,
  • automobile garages, etc.
The act also prohibits children from working in places where certain processes are being undertaken, as listed in Part B of the Schedule; for example:
  • beedi making,
  • tanning,
  • soap manufacture,
  • brick kilns and roof tiles units, etc.
These provisions do not apply to a workshop where the occupier is working with the help of his family or in a government recognised or aided school.

Ministry of Human Resources and development have enacted the RTE Act(2009). Under the RTE Act, a child means male or female of ages between 6 to 14 years. It envisages that it shall be the duty of State to ensure free and compulsory education to all children below the age of 14 Years. The Objective of the amendment of Child Labour Prohibition Act is also to ensure that all children between the ages of 6 to 14 years are in school rather than in work places.

The main provisions of the Act are:-
  • No child shall be required or permitted to work in any establishment in excess of such number of hours, as may be prescribed for such establishment or class of establishments. The period of work on each day shall be so fixed that no period shall exceed three hours and that no child shall work for more than three hours before he has had an interval for rest for at least one hour.
  • No child shall be required or permitted to work overtime. No child shall be required or permitted to work in, any establishment on any day on which he has already been working in another establishment.
  • Every child employed in an establishment shall be allowed in each week, a holiday of one whole day, which day shall be specified by the occupier in a notice permanently exhibited in a conspicuous place in the establishment and the day so specified shall not be altered by the occupier more than once in three months.
  • Every occupier shall maintain, in respect of children employed or permitted to work in any establishment, a register to be available for inspection by an Inspector at all times during working hours or when work is being carried on in any such establishment showing:-
                 (i) the name and date of birth of every child so employed or permitted to work;
                (ii) hours and periods of work of any such child and the intervals of rest to which he is entitled;
                (iii) the nature of work of any such child; and
                (iv) such other particulars as may be prescribed.
  • The appropriate Government may, by notification in the official Gazette, make rules for the health and safety of the children employed or permitted to work in any establishment or class of establishments.
  • Whoever employs any child or permits any child to work in contravention of the provisions of this Act shall be punishable with imprisonment or with fine or with both.
  • Any person, police officer or inspector may file a complaint of the commission of an offence under this Act in any Court of competent jurisdiction. No Court inferior to that of a Metropolitan Magistrate or a Magistrate of the first class shall try any offence under this Act.

Through the child labour amendment Bill 2012 it was proposed to prohibit employment of children below the age of 14 years; in all occupations and process to facilitate their enrollment in schools in view of the Right of Children to free and compulsory education Act 2009 and to prohibit employment of adolescents (persons who have completed the age of 14 but have not yet completed 18 Years of age), in hazardous occupations and processes to regulate the conditions of service of adolescents in line with ILO convention.

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