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The Economic Times

Rajya Sabha passes amendments to the Child Labour Act

NEW DELHI:The Rajya Sabha on Tuesday passed the amendments to the Child Labour Act, paving way for complete prohibition of employment of children below the age of 14 but at the same time allowing minors to work in family enterprises.

The bill will now be laid in Lok Sabha and once passed it will go to the President for his assent. Following the President's approval the changes will be notified by the labour ministry.

Following this, children younger than 14 years can now work in family enterprises and farms after school hours and during holidays. Children working as artists in the audio-visual entertainment industry, including advertisement, films, television serials or any such other entertainment or sports activities, except the circus, have also been granted exemption, provided the work does not affect their school education.

Amendment to the Child Labour Act proposes complete prohibition of employment of children up to the age of 14 years while banning employment of children between 15-18 years in hazardous works, in sync with the Right to Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act 2009.

Besides, it provides for a fine of Rs 60,000 to an employer who employees children below the age of 14 years or an imprisonment of up to two years. Under the proposed changes, even the parents are liable to be fined Rs 5000 and imprisonment between six months to one year if they force children below 14 years into child labour for the second time after being rescued.

According to the 2001 census, there were 12.6 million child workers between the ages of five and 14 in India. In 2011, this number fell to 4.35 million. The National Sample Survey Office’s survey of 2009-10 put the number at 4.98 million.

The Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Amendment (CLPRA) Bill was first introduced in Rajya Sabha by the previous government in 2012 but was sent to the standing committee for recommendations. The new government had sent it to the inter-ministerial group set up for the purpose to resolve internal differences following which the Union Cabinet gave its go-ahead to the changes in May last year.

The 1986 law prohibits employing children only in certain occupations such as mines, work in hazardous process and with inflammable substances or explosives. Minors working in middle class homes as domestic workers and those employed at hotels, dhabas were included as a category of child labourers only after an amendment in 2006.
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