3 actors in child labour row

Suchitra Krishnamoorthi, TV stars Laxmi and Uma Khan land in soup


“We have initiated police action against them under various sections of the Child Labour & Prohibition Act, 1986, Juvenile Justice Act and other laws for employing child labour,” Labour Secretary Kavita Gupta said. She also promised action against television actress Urvashi Dharnorkar, who was arrested on Saturday on the charges of beating, burning and confining her 10-year-old maid.

Earlier, Labour Minister Nawab Malik told journalists that the his department had information that at least two actresses had employed minor girls (below 14 years of age) as domestic labour. “We have initiated the necessary proceedings against the actresses. We appeal to people to give us information about individuals who employ child labour so we can take suitable steps,” Malik said.

Gupta said that Suchitra, former wife of film director Shekhar Kapoor, had employed a minor girl, Naranti from Meghalaya. Laxmi had employed Laila Khan while Uma Khan had employed Shanti Vishwakarma at their homes. “Some NGOs got a tip-off and managed to rescue the minor girls—Naranti, Laila and Shanti. With the help of the labour department, they have lodged police complaints against them,” Gupta said.

Gupta said that employing children below 14 years of age in households was prohibited under law because domestic work of all kind is categorised under hazardous activities. “If convicted, it attracts a penalty of Rs 20,000 and/or jail term ranging from 6 to 24 months,” she added.

The action comes barely three days after Dharnorkar was arrested for beating her maid. However she managed to secure bail within hours, causing a furore. The victim, Rameshwari is lodged in a juvenile rescue home.

“The government feels that for such heinous offense, (Urvashi) should not have secured bail so easily. Now, we are contemplating initiating other serious charges against her, including laws pertaining to bonded labour and child trafficking,” Gupta said.

Similar complaints

She said there had been many similar complaints that people from the glamour world were employing children as domestic servants. “These famous personalities are role models for society. Whatever they do, the masses blindly follow them. This magnifies the problem,” Gupta said.

The Child Labour Prevention Act, 1986, was amended in October 2006 to ban employment of children under 14 as domestic maid and in restaurants, hotels and other hospitality sectors.

Urvashi to be re-arrested

The television artiste, who was released on bail after being arrested for allegedly torturing and assaulting her minor domestic help in suburban Andheri, will be rearrested, a senior minister said on Tuesday, report agencies from Mumbai.

Urvashi Dhanorkar will be re-arrested and booked under the Child Trafficking and Bonded Labour Acts, Labour Minister Nawab Malik told reporters here. Dhanorkar allegedly assaulted her 10-year-old domestic help Rameshwari Jadhav, causing injuries to her eyes and arms.

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