By ENAKSHI GANGULY
The Government of India is presenting before the country an amendment to the Child Labour (Prohibition & Regulation) Amendment Bill, 2012. This amendment had been first proposed by the UPA government in 2012. The initial announcement that the law would now ban all forms of labour for children up to the age of 14 years and in hazardous occupations till the age in the 14-18 year age group was welcomed by activists. We felt that at last our plea of over two and a half decades to harmonise the child labour law with the right to education had been finally addressed.
Reading the final print of the law however raises a number of concerns. Frankly, apart from the distinction made in separating the children upto 14 years and 14 -18 years, in their treatment, and increase in penalties on employers, the law is not a huge progress between 1986 and 2015 or for that matter 1938, which was the first time a law child labour was enacted. This, despite the changes in socio-economic status as well as law and policy in the country in this period.
In fact, very much in keeping with the arguments offered by the government on social realities, we continue to have a reservation on Article 32 (dealing with child labour) of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (which India ratified in 1992), with the government arguing “….that it is not practical immediately to prescribe minimum ages for admission to each and every area of employment in India - the Government of India undertakes to take measures to progressively implement the provisions of article 32, particularly paragraph 2 (a), in accordance with its national legislation and relevant international instruments to which it is a State Party”
Read more here.