Stricter law in place, NGO hopes admn will act on child labour complaints
With the Government of India passing a new stricter law on child labour by amending the Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act, 1986, which is now the Child and Adolescent Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act, 2012, NGO Bachpan Bachao Andolan is hoping that the district administration will wake up and take action against the pending complaints of child labour lodged with deputy commissioner Rahul Tiwari.
The act was amended to facilitate the implementation of the Right to Education Act, 2009, which mandates free and compulsory education from six to 14 years.
The non-governmental organisation, which is fighting for a labour-free India, also has a reason to cheer as all five demands raised by it with the central government under its nationwide campaign 'Child Labour Free India Campaign', have been accepted. The campaign saw the participation of politicians like Sonia Gandhi, Sushma Swaraj and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. Celebrities like Boman Irani, Deepti Naval, Sonam Kapoor, Mahima Chaudhry, Salman Khan and Australian cricketer Adam Gilchrist also supported the campaign.
The NGO also sent demand letters to 56 members of Parliament to seek amendments to the law.
'No FIRs against offenders yet'
Bachpan Bachao Andolan Punjab coordinator Dinesh Kumar said, "The new law has made child labour a non-bailable offence. But it is a matter of shame that the district commissioner's officer and police are not taking any action against the culprits from whom we got children released in in 2011 and this year so far."
Kumar added that although the imprisonment had been raised to three years under the new law, the police are not even registering the FIRs against the employers of children. "The six complaints pertaining to child labour are pending with the deputy commissioner. It is the ruling of the Punjab and Haryana high court that within 24 hours of the incidence; but the police and the administration have failed to adhere to it."
The NGO conducted two raids in factories but the police have not yet registered the FIRs against the factory owners.
"In the raid conducted on December 20, 2011 at RD Spinning Mills on Seera Road, in which 20 child labourers were rescued, no FIR has been registered by station house officer (SHO) of Meherbaan Chowk police station. The SHO is not even ready to talk about the case whenever asked, forget FIR," said Kumar.
In the second raid conducted on July 19, 2012 at a garment factory on Bahadur Ke Road, where 19 kids were rescued who were being paid as low as Rs 50 per week, no FIR has been registered by the SHO of Jodhewal Basti Chowk. 'Whenever we go to get the copy of FIR, SHO says no orders from the tehsildar have been received yet to book the owner," said Kumar.
Knock the door campaign
Under its nationwide campaign 'Child Labour Free India Campaign', where former child labourers knocked the doors of parliamentarians and celebrities petitioning them for strong anti-child labour legislations.
More teeth to anti-child labour law
All forms of child labour prohibited for children under 14 years of age;
Employment of children up to 18 years in any hazardous occupation prohibited in conformity with the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act 2000;
Child Labour made cognisable and non-bailable offence under law;
Comprehensive rehabilitation of child labourers and clear monitoring and accountability framework in place;
India should reiterate its new role as a leader in global economy by immediately ratifying ILO Conventions No 182 on the worst forms of child labour and the No. 138 on the minimum age of employment at the earliest. (Ratification hurdles cleared, and government has indicated that ratification is now in pipeline)