In a move that is cause for child rights activists to rejoice, the Delhi High court on Wednesday approved clear action plan for handling child labour cases and suggested modifications to discourage the crime.
One of the main points in the judgement is that the Rs 20,000 fine that an employer of a child labourer is required to pay must be imposed on the spot under the land revenue provisions by the district authorities.
Earlier, because of the cumbersome and lengthy procedure carried out by the labour department, there were many loopholes in the fine recovery.
Kailash Satyarthi of the Bachpan Bachao Andolan (BBA) told IANS that after the judgement the confusion over responsibilities of different authorities will be cleared.
The BBA had filed the public interest litigation (PIL) in the Delhi High Court in 2005, demanding clear plan of action on the rescue and rehabilitation of child labourers.
"Earlier, there was a lot of confusion over which authority will handle what in cases of child labour. For instance, the labour department handles cases in which children are employed, but among those kids if some are trafficked, then they are not the labour department's responsibility," said Satyarthi.
"But now the action plan chalks out every department's responsibility. In child labour cases, bonded labour law, child labour law and Juvenile Justice Act will be applied. Along with this, the relevant sections of the Indian Penal Code will also be applied so that everyone is held accountable," he added.
This, he said, was the biggest bottleneck in the past as the authorities generally took action under the Child Labour Act in case of children under 14 years whereas the children between 14 and 18 were left out.