New Delhi, Aug. 29: The cabinet on Tuesday approved an amendment bill which will impose blanket ban on use of any child under the age of 14 years in any form of employment.
The amenment will make it illegal to employ children under 14 anywhere and teens under 18 in hazardous industries.
The amendment to the Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act will now be tabled in Parliament, which is in session.
The punishment for employing a child under 14 under the new bill is a jail term of up to three years or a fine of up to Rs 50,000.
At present, children under 14 are barred from employment in hazardous industries and in homes but are allowed to work elsewhere, in dhabas and other small shops.
The existing law also does not cover 14-18-year-olds.
But the amendment makes it a cognisable offence to employ teens in this age group in hazardous industries listed in the Factories Act, 1948, such as mining and explosives.
They can, however, do non-hazardous work such as childcare, cleaning and forest gathering and can be employed as household servants.
In the new bill, the punishment has been increased to a jail term of two years from one year or a fine of up to Rs 50,000 from Rs 20,000, or both.
For repeat offences, the punishment has been raised to a three-year jail term.
The overall responsibility for implementation of the proposed law shall be vested with the district magistrate and the monitoring and inspection is to be done by the labour department in the state concerned.
According to Census 2001, there were 12.6 million economically active children in the age group of 5-14 years. The National Sample Survey data said the child workforce in 2004-05 was estimated at 9.07 million.
The amendments will enable India to ratify the ILO Convention 138 (minimum age for entry to employment) and Convention 182 (prohibition of employment of persons below 18 years in hazardous occupations).