Restaurants and hotels owners in Mumbai are facing the police heat. Their premises are being raided and they are being charges for employing children.
The Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act 1986 prescribes employment from 14 years onwards but the Juvenile Justice (Care & Protection of Children) Act 2000 prohibits employment below 18 years.
So although restaurants have employed people above 14 years, the stringent Juvenile Justice Act works against employers who have hired those between 15 and 18 years.
The Indian Hotels and Restaurant Association (AHAR) have alleged that in the last one month, there has been series of raids by the police.
“Despite providing documentary age proof of workers above 14 years, action is taken against hoteliers. Children are sent to remand homes,” said Adarsh Shetty, president of AHAR. He said the police were using the provisions of the Juvenile Justice Act, which is not applicable to them.
Earlier, people used to migrate from south India and far-flung places of Maharashtra. Now, labourers come in hordes from Odisha, Bihar, North East and Nepal.
Non-governmental organisations (NGOs) said those below 18 should not be employed.
Farida Lambay, co-founder of Pratham, the NGO working for children’s welfare, said the Juvenile Justice Act should be enforced as it was stronger Act. “Hotels should not employ children below 18 years,” said Lambay.
The Mumbai Police denied any allegations of harassing hoteliers. “We do not raid any premises on our own. We do so only after receiving on complaints by NGOs,” said Dhananjay Kulkarni, spokesperson of Mumbai Police.
WHAT THE ACTS SAY
The Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act, 1986, outlines where and how children can work and where they cannot. The Act defines a child as a person who has not completed 14 years. The main objective was to ban the employment of children in factories, mines and hazardous industries. It also regulates the working conditions of children in other industries.
Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2000, defines “juvenile” or “child” as a person who has not completed 18 years. The Act provides for a special approach towards prevention and treatment of juvenile delinquency and also offers a framework for protection, treatment and rehabilitation of children in the purview of the juvenile justice system.