Employing children aged 14-18 not an offence: Court
Employing children between 14 and 18 years of age does not amount to an offence, the Bombay High Court observed on Thursday.mumbai Updated: Nov 26, 2010 02:19 IST
Employing children between 14 and 18 years of age does not amount to an offence, the Bombay High Court observed on Thursday.
“In view of the provisions of sections 3 and 7 of the Act [Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act], an offence is constituted only if children below 14 years of age are engaged in employment,” a division bench comprising justices AM Khanwilkar and AP Bhangale said while holding that the sections were wrongly applied against the petitioner, Manoranjan Saha.
Saha, 48, was booked by the Malad police after six children were rescued from his restaurant, Bhartiya Jalpaan Griha outside Malad railway station earlier this year.
He was booked under various sections of the Indian Penal Code, Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection) Act, 2006, and the Child Labour Act.
The FIR was registered on July 16, 2010, in accordance with a notification issued by the state government in April 2006.
Saha had sought quashing of the complaint contending that the notification had enhanced the age of the children.
His counsel, Shirish Gupte pointed out to a judgment of the Aurangabad bench of the high court holding that the state government cannot import age in such a fashion and apply it to some other legislation.
The bench quashed the FIR to the extent of sections 3 and 7 of the Child Labour Act after additional public prosecutor Dr FR Shaikh conceded that the provisions were not attracted if the children were above 14 years of age.
The judges were irked to find that all six children were above 15 years of age, which was not verified before registering the FIR.
The ruling, however, cannot be termed as a relief to employers running establishments like small hotels and restaurants, as the bench refused to entertain Saha’s plea for quashing other charges slapped against him — section 374 of IPC, which prescribes punishment for compulsory labour and sections 23 and 26 of the Juvenile Justice Act which equate engaging children below 18 years of age to cruelty.