Hyderabad: Child rights activist and Nobel laureate Kailash Satyarthi today demanded the government to ensure a complete ban on child labour up to the age of 14, saying that the Child Labour Bill should be tabled and passed during the second half of the Budget session in Parliament.
"An amendment to the Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act will lead to a total ban on all forms of child labour up to the age of 14 and ban on worst forms of child labour involving hazardous work up to the age of 18," Satyarthi told reporters here.
The proposed amendments will synchronise with existing laws of the country--Right to Education and Juvenile Justice Act--he said, adding that complete ban on child labour up to the age of 14 will ensure that it can be matched with Right to Education Act (2009), and banning all worst forms of child labour upto the age of 18 can match with the existing law on Juvenile Justice.
"Towards this end, we have been struggling on bringing amendments for the past six years right from the previous government. I am thankful to Labour Minister Bandaru Dattatreya, who too had recently assured on this. But that should not remain a lip-service. My demand is that this amendment has to be brought in the next part of budget session. It has to be first tabled and then passed," Satyarthi demanded.
"Indian law does not prohibit all forms of child labour. It prohibits only the hazardous forms of child labour. It is an irony and shameful to say that India has enacted two new progressive laws Right to Education and Juvenile Justice Act," he noted.
"We are also demanding that those children freed from child labour should be entitled for rehabilitation benefits under government schemes," he said, adding that "I will be satisfied if the government and the society would own it that this our responsibility to put an end to child labour in all its forms."
He further said that 179 countries have ratified the International Labour Organisation (ILO) convention to combat the worst forms of child labour.
"Unfortunately, India has not yet ratified this convention. This besides, India has also not ratified convention on minimum age of admission to employment and work," he said.
Reacting to a query on proposed amendments to the Juvenile Justice Act, Satyarthi said “amendment was necessary in Juvenile Justice Act. It is not clear what kind of amendments it will be, we have to wait for the amended draft of the law which will be brought in Parliament hopefully.”
"However, I am against minimising the age of juvenile. Care and protection should be given to all children upto the age of 18. Juveniles should not be kept (in prison) with other criminals and special measures have to be taken," he said.
Globally, 17 crore children are still working as child labourers and 85 million out of them are victims of worst forms of child prostitution and child slavery, Satyarthi added.