"The mere fact that a minor girl is staying with a family does not imply that she has been hired as a domestic servant," a Delhi court ruled while giving relief to a man who had given shelter to a girl child abandoned by her parents.
"Ours is a country which is full of destitute minor children, who have either nobody to look after or their guardians are not in a position to maintain them. So, if a noble family picks up any such child, maintains and educates him/her as their own child, such a noble act deserves to be lauded and encouraged," additional sessions judge Virender Bhat said.
Any person, who is giving shelter to such children, cannot be held guilty of forcing the minor for the offence of child labour, he further noted.
His observation came while setting aside an order by a magistrate who had directed "in totally cavalier fashion" the authorities concerned to charge Nayan Ahmed under Child Labour Act, Juvenile Justice Act and other provisions of the Indian penal Code.
A complaint was filed by the president, Scientific Welfare Society, Indian Agriculture Research Institute, that a girl child was working as Ahmed's domestic help for the last one-and-half years.
Bhat took note of the fact that the inspection team nowhere mentioned in its report the kind of domestic work the girl was found doing.
While in custody of the Child Welfare Committee, the minor had told them she was staying with Ahmeds as her grandmother had sent her there because of poverty and they had offered to rear her.
She had said that her father had abandoned her in childhood and her mother is of unsound mind and is not traceable.