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Resource Centre


Child Labour is a Crime 

IPC section 374
According to this section that whoever unlawfully compels any person to labour against the will of that person, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to one year or with fine or both.

The Child Labour (Prohibition & Regulation) Act, 1986
The act prohibits the employment of children below the age of 14 in factories, mines and in other forms of hazardous employment (including domestic labour and service industry), and regulates the working conditions of children in other employment.

Government servants are prohibited from employing children as domestic servants. Through the recent notification effective from 10 October 2006, the government has imposed these restrictions on everyone.

Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2000
Under this act any person responsible for abuse assault and neglect or causing physical or mental suffering can be punished for up to 6 months and/or fined.

Also any person who procure a juvenile or the child for hazardous work, keeps him in bondage and withholds the child's earnings or uses them for his own purpose is liable for imprisonment up to 3 years and also a fine.

Bonded Labour System (Abolition) Act, 1976
Under this act any kind of forced labour including child labour is a punishable offence. There are many incidences where judiciary has acted for elimination of child labour and has dealt with it as forced labour or bonded labour.

Supreme Court Directions on Child Labour
The Supreme Court of India, 1996 has given certain directions regarding the manner in which children working in the hazardous occupations are to be withdrawn from work and rehabilitated, and the manner in which the working conditions of children working in non-hazardous occupations are to be regulated and improved.

The judgment of the Supreme Court envisages:


Know more about Child Labour

Who is a child labour?

Any child below the age of 18 who is forced to work for another and is being economically exploited in the process is a child labour. The work has to be in contravention of the anti child labour laws in India, international instruments and treaties, against the fundamental rights enshrined in the Indian Constitution, against human rights, and is detrimental to the child’s physical, mental, social, intellectual, cultural and moral well being.

Thus, Child Labour is a crime and each case of child labour is a basket of several crimes under several national laws.

Is a child labour also a victim of trafficking?

The basic reason why children work is the economics of cheap labour supply and due to this reason, often, children are trafficked away from their native place for the purposes of exploitation. All children rescued by BBA are victims of trafficking, whether they are alone, or a part of the family of all trafficked enslaved members.

For example, in the rescue operations being conducted in garment manufacturing/ value addition units in Delhi, majority of children have been trafficked from Bihar. Most of these children are found working for 12- 16 hrs a day for little or no wages, no freedom of movement, sometimes living and working in the same room for months.

Thus, each child is doing the work of almost 2 adults on a daily basis in absolute slavery like conditions.

If children are working to support their poor families – what is wrong with that?

Majority of child labourers are lured away from their families through deceitful means. As a result, most of them are not even aware of their place of employment and of the way to return home. While most of them are not paid any wages and just given food to survive after around 12-16 hours of work every day some are paid a meager amount of Rs 200 (around 4 USD) per month along with food and a promise that they would be offer better wages after 2-3 years when they become experts. They never earn/save enough to send back any money home and are actually not supporting the families at all.

Minimum wage in Delhi for an unskilled worker is Rs. 5500 (almost 120 USD) and thus, each establishment employing 10 trafficked child bonded labourers is earning a huge profit in lieu of this slavery.

What is Bonded Labour?

Bonded or forced Labour is a form of slavery where a person is working for another for little or no wages and having no freedom. In India, if a person is working for a consideration which is less than the minimum wages and has no freedom, the presumption is that such a person is a bonded/ forced labour. The onus of proving this presumption wrong is on the employer or the state.


Reality of Child Labour