Court nod for new action plan on child labour


A division bench of Chief Justice Ajit Prakash Shah and Justice Manmohan gave their nod to a scheme submitted by the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) and said: "Today's children constitute tomorrow's future. To ensure a bright future of our children, we have to ensure that they are educated and not exploited.

"In fact, children are the most vulnerable members of any society. They are entitled to special care and assistance because of their physical and mental immaturity. The problem is more complicated in developing countries like ours, where child labour exists in relationship with illiteracy and poverty."

The court ruling came on the plea of the Bachpan Bachao Andolan (BBA), an NGO, seeking elimination of child labour from the capital.

The court accepted the NCPCR suggestion that, those employing child labour should be fined Rs 20,000 immediately and the labour department will not have to await a conviction order.

"The money would be recovered as arrears of land revenue and the said amount would be utilised for the educational needs of the rescued child even if the child has subsequently crossed the age of 14 years," the bench said.

According the proposed scheme, a steering committee should be set up in each district and its members would include the deputy labour commissioner, the district-level health officer, the deputy commissioner of police along with a representative from the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD).

BBA counsel H S Phoolka said: "A loud and clear message should go to the employers that they would face prosecution under the strictest laws with an immediate recovery of fine of Rs 20,000."

According to the NCPCR, the child labour in Delhi is of two types, namely, out-of-school children living here with their parents and migrant children from other states who have left their family behind.

The NCPCR will implement an area-based scheme for out-of-school children as a pilot project in northwest Delhi and a pilot project for migrant child labour will begin in south Delhi.

"The Delhi Action Plan provides for a detailed procedure to be adopted at the pre-rescue and actual rescue stage. The pre-rescue plan deals with how information is to be collected, verified and the composition of the rescue team as well as what training is to be imparted in advance to the members of the rescue team," the NCPCR submitted in the court.

The court also directed Delhi Police to make the necessary arrangements of police force for raids as per the demand and should arrest the employers of child labour immediately.

"The police should treat the liberated child labour with respect and honour and hand them over to children's home in the charge of officers of the Women and Child Welfare Department," the court ordered while directing the Police to lodge a complaint against an employer employing child labour.

The court further added that "Due care of the liberated child labourers should be taken till they are sent to the children's home and it should be seen that they are provided with proper food, water and other facilities in time."

The court also asked the labour department to see that if the child worker happens to be a local person, she/he should be inducted in the mainstream of education with the help of education officer and if possible, he/she should be provided job oriented technical education.

"Care should be taken to see that the child labourer develops liking for the education. Parents of child labourers should be counselled to stress the importance of education among the labourers," the bench noted.

"In case the child has taken up the job due to economic conditions of the family, adequate efforts should be made to provide all benefits to the family under all relevant developmental and social security schemes of the government," it said.

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