Child Labor Act 1978

What is Child labor?

The term child labor is used when a child is involved into doing a work which is mentally, physically , socially or morally harmful and dangerous to a child and also deprives them of a better childhood and schooling opportunities forcing them to leave the opportunities they have and mature earlier than they should.

The Child Labor Act 1986:

Government has enacted the Child Labor (Prohibition & Regulation) Amendment Act, 2016 which came into force. The Amendment Act completely prohibits the employment of children below 14 years. The amendment also prohibits the employment of adolescents in the age group of 14 to 18 years in hazardous occupations and processes and regulates their working conditions where they are not prohibited. The amendment also provides stricter punishment for employers for violation of the Act and making the offence of employing any child or adolescent in contravention of the Act by an employer as cognizable.

The main objective of this act was to ensure, no involvement of children who have not completed the age of 14 in certain occupations.

The Act also prohibits employment of child in about 13 occupations and 51 processes. The constitution of India in the article 24 under right against exploitation also mentions for prohibition for employment of children in factories and other unorganized sector.

A lot of efforts were put in by PN Bhagwati and V.R. Krishna Iyer to get this litigation into running and in action.

The Path-breaking and Landmark Case of MC Mehta V. State of Tamil Nadu:

The case started with a PIL which was filed by Mr. MC Mehta, alleging that many children were being employed in several hazardous industries more particularly in the firecracker and matchstick industry in Sivkasi in Tamil Nadu.

What held in the court:

A committee was appointed by the Supreme Court of India to visit the site and to prepare a report keeping all the different aspects in concern.

The committee after the submission of the report on November 11,1991 , gave suggestions that the state of Tamil Nadu should be directed that no child should be employed in hazardous and damaging industries of any kind. They also suggested another premise for them to not work more than 6 hours. Proper transport and education facilities should be provided in or around the factory.

It was also recommended to start a national commission on children’s welfare to prepare a scheme for the abolition of child labour.

The case is a landmark case and is so important because it introduces a lot of reforms and amendments in the child labor act 1986 and the case threw light on Child labor as a major issue.

Some of the provisions after the MC Mehta Case are:

The provisions introduced as an after effect of the case were:

Article 24 – Prohibition of employment of children in factories, etc. – No child below the age of fourteen years shall be employed to work in any factory or mine or engaged in any other hazardous employment. 39€. That the health and strength of workers, men and women, and the tender age of children are not abused and that citizens are not forced by economic necessity to enter avocations unsuited to their age or strength.

Article 39(f) -Children should be given opportunities and facilities to develop in a healthy manner, in conditions of freedom and dignity and childhood should be protected against exploitation and against moral and material abandonment.

Article 41 – Right to work, to education and to public assistance in certain cases.- The State shall, within the limits of its economic capacity and development, make effective provision for securing the right to work, to education and to public assistance in cases of unemployment, old age, sickness and disablement, and in other cases of undeserved want.

Article 45 – Provision for free and compulsory education for children.- The State shall endeavor to provide, within a period of ten years from the commencement of this Constitution, for free and compulsory education for all children until they complete the age of fourteen years.

And many other more reforms.

 Reference: lawtimejournal ( for the prvisions)

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