Rajya Sabha Passes Bill Prohibiting Employment of Children Below 14 Years
TMC member Derek O’Brien speaks in the Rajya Sabha in New Delhi on Tuesday (Source: PTI)

Rajya Sabha Passes Bill Prohibiting Employment of Children Below 14 Years

The Rajya Sabha passed the Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Amendment Bill, 2012 today. The Bill will now be placed before the Lok Sabha.

The amended Child Labour Act prohibits the employment of children (below 14 years of age) in all occupations except in non-hazardous family enterprises or the entertainment industry.

The Bill also allows children, between 14 and 18 years of age, to be employed in non-hazardous occupations and processes. It has added a new category of persons called “adolescent” defining them as persons between 14 and 18 years of age.

Renuka Chaudhary of the Indian National Congress opposed the proposal in the Bill to lower the number of identified hazardous occupations from 18 to three. She questioned the government’s attempt to redefine hazardous occupations. D Raja of the CPI opposed the enabling provision in the Bill to allow adolescents to work in family enterprises. Both Chaudhary and Raja emphasised that the norm that allows children below 14 years of age to work can be misused.

Labour minister Bandaru Dattatreya, clarified before the House that the aim of the government is to completely abolish child labour. He explained that the provision to allow children below 14 years of age has sufficient riders to check malpractices. He said that Bill proposes stricter sentences for employers who hire child workers.

He specified that no salaries or payments are allowed in return for any services bailed out by the child.

India can now ratify the International Labour Organisation’s (ILO’s) conventions related to child labour. ILO chief Guy Ryder had noted during his India visit that after the passage of these amendments, India will be able to ratify the ILO Convention No. 138 on the minimum age for admission to employment and work, and ILO Convention No. 182 on the worst forms of child labour.

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