The Delhi High Court on Wednesday put its seal of approval on Delhi Action Plan for Total Abolition of Child Labour in the Capital and issued a series of directions to the public bodies concerned for its implementation.
The Action Plan has been prepared by the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) following consultations with various stakeholders and conduct of a survey and research. The Court had last year directed the NCPCR to prepare a detailed action plan for strict enforcement and implementation of the Child Labour (Prohibition & Regulation), Act 1986 on a public interest litigation seeking directions for rescue and rehabilitation of child labourers in the Capital. The highlight of the Action Plan is that it provides for rescue for all children between 14 and 18 years of age though the Act defines a child as a person who has not completed 14 years of age.
“The Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2000, will apply to children between the age of 14 and 18 years as well as to those children who are below the age of 14 years and employed in non-scheduled occupations and processes. Consequently, the said children would be governed by the Juvenile Justice Act as well the Bonded Labour System (Abolition) Act, 1976, if applicable, not by the CLPRA as stipulated in the Action Plan”, the Court said.
The Court further said that the responsibility of lodging a police complaint against an employer employing child labourers would lie with the Delhi police, not with the Labour Department of the Delhi Government, as suggested in the Action Plan.
A fine of Rs. 20,000 would be recovered from an employer of child labourers pending his conviction, and the amount would be utilised for the educational needs of the rescued children even if they had crossed the age of 14.
The Court directed the Director, Department of Child Welfare of the Delhi Government, to begin implementing the Action Plan by accommodating for the time being 500 rescued children every month in the institutions run by it and non-governmental organisation. Directing the authorities to immediately start implementing the Action Plan, the Court asked the Labour Department to file an action taken report after six months of the orders.