ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Flawed Child Labour Law Amendment

By institutionalising child labour in family-based occupations under the age of 14 years and permitting the employment of children in many hazardous occupations, India has failed its children.

India is home to 33 million child labourers in the age group 0–18 years, according to Census 2011. It is unfortunate that an average of one in 11 children is found working in India, when they deserve a childhood free from labour and the pressures of fulfilling economic roles as adults. In such a bleak scenario, when the Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act 1986 (CLPRA) was to be revised after almost three decades, the expectation was that the policymakers would take this opportunity to objectively analyse and arrive at a protective and strong legislation to ensure a safe childhood for all children. However, the Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Amendment Bill 2016 has left some serious concerns unaddressed.

The amendments allow children under the age of 14 years to help in family enterprises, and limit the scope of the definition of “hazardous” works by significantly reducing the lists of hazardous occupations and processes. This is likely to have a far-reaching effect on children’s right to learn, play and develop. This article tries to critically examine the amendments in the child labour legislation in India in the light of the magnitude of the problem and the imminent impact of the amended legislation on the children. It further evaluates the approach of viewing this as just another labour legislation rather than a protective social one based more on the idea of justice than that of law.

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