- Press Trust of India

New Delhi May 13, 2015 : In major changes to the child labour law, the Cabinet today approved allowing employment of children below 14 years in 'non-hazardous' family enterprises, entertainment industry and sporting events after school hours, while relaxing the penal action against the parents.

While child rights activists have been demanding a complete prohibition of child labour, the government said "it would be prudent to also keep in mind the country's social fabric and socio-economic conditions" before taking any such decision".

However, the new amendments propose to make child labour a cognizable offence, while punishment has been increased for those employing children below the age of 14 years in violation of the law. They would face imprisonment of up to three years and a fine of up to Rs 50,000 for each offence under the new law, after it gets passed in Parliament.

However, the parents or guardians would not face any punishment for the first offence, while the penalty would be a maximum of Rs 10,000 for the second and subsequent offence.

These provisions are part of the 'the official amendments to the Child Labour (Prohibition & Regulation) Amendment Bill', which would make changes to the nearly 30-year-old law and was today approved at a Union Cabinet meeting chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi this morning.

The amendments were, however, criticised by activists and opposition. Congress leader Ahmed Patel tweeted: "Government's move to partially legitimize child labour is a retrograde step. It violates right to eduction and defeats our aspirations to be a just society."

Under the existing Act, the punishment provisions are the same for employers and parents, which include jail of up to two years and a maximum monetary penalty of Rs 20,000.

Also, the prohibition has been extended to all kinds of employment, with the exception of non-hazardous family enterprises, entertainment industry (including films, ads and TV serials) and sporting events (except circus), from the 18 occupations and 65 processes specified under the current law.

Justifying the exceptions to the complete ban on child labour, the government said, "In a large number of families, children help their parents in their occupations like agriculture, artisanship etc and while helping the parents, children also learn the basics of occupations."... read full story ...

 

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