The union cabinet today approved certain amendments to the Child Labour (Prohibition & Regulation) Amendment Bill, 2012, allowing exemptions for family businesses, even as it proposed a complete ban on employment of children below 14 years.
The amendments also allow children below 14 years to engage in entertainment and sports activities.
The amended bill seeks to make child labour a cognizable offence and raises the punishment for violations to up to three years in jail. It also increases the fine on employers to Rs50,000.
The union cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi today gave its approval for moving official amendments to the Child Labour (Prohibition & Regulation) Amendment Bill, 2012.
The official amendments along with the Amendment Bill 2012 proposes to make the following changes to the Child Labour (Prohibition & Regulation) Act, 1986.
The bill prohibits employment of children below 14 years in all occupations and processes and age of prohibition of employment linked to age under Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act, 2009.
However, exemptions will be given to castes where the child helps his family or family enterprises, which is other than any hazardous occupations or processes set forth in the schedule, after his school hours or during vacations.
Also, rules will be relaxed where the child works as an artist in an audio-visual entertainment industry, including advertisement, films, television serials or any such other entertainment or sports activities except the circus, subject to such conditions and safety measures, as may be prescribed and provided that such work does not affect the school education of the child.
''While considering a total prohibition on the employment of child, it would be prudent to also keep in mind the country's social fabric and socio-economic conditions. In a large number of families, children help their parents in their occupations like agriculture, artisanship etc and while helping the parents, children also learn the basics of occupations,'' an official statement noted.
The amendments are aimed at striking a balance between the need for education for a child and the reality of the socio-economic condition and social fabric in the country, the release stated.
The amended bill also introduces a new definition of adolescence in the CLPR Act and employment of adolescents (14 to 18 years of age) has been prohibited in hazardous occupations and processes. These provisions would go a long way in protecting adolescents from the employment not suitable to their age, it added.
The bill prescribes stricter punishment for employers for violation of the Act.
In case of first offence of employing any child or adolescent in contravention of the Act, penalty would be imprisonment for a term not less than six months but which may extend to two years or with fine not less than Rs20,000, but which may extend to Rs50,000 or with both. Earlier penalty for employing any child in contravention of the Act, was imprisonment for term not less than three months but which may extend to one year, or with fine not less than Rs10,000, but which may extend to Rs20,000 or with both.
In case of a second or subsequent offence of employing any child or adolescent in contravention of the Act, the minimum imprisonment would be one year, which may extend to three years. Earlier the penalty for second or subsequent offence of employing any child in contravention of the Act, was imprisonment for a minimum term of six months, which may extend to two years.
Offence of employing any child or adolescent in contravention of the Act by an employer has been made cognizable in order to make it a deterrent against the offence.