New Delhi: The Sonia Gandhi-led National Advisory Council (NAC), which seeks to provide policy and legislative inputs to the government, recommended the abolition of child labour under the age of 14 and its regulation between the ages of 15 and 18.
“We are demanding a complete ban on child labour, whether hazardous or non-hazardous, under the age of 14, and we are also demanding that the age group between 15 and 18 years should be regulated at least in hazardous situations,” NAC member Harsh Mander said on Friday.
A child labour works at a brick factory in Allahabad. Photo: PTI.
With the Right to Education (RTE) law in place, the demand for complete abolition of child labour assumes greater importance, Mander said. The RTE Act, which was passed by Parliament in April last year, guarantees education for all children between the ages of six and 14.
“We are also demanding that parents should not be penalized in case a child is at work; instead, the employer should be penalized,” Mander said.
The draft recommendations of the NAC working group on the abolition of child labour will be put on the body’s website for public comment, along with those of the working groups on the Rajiv Awas Yojana, schemes for minority development, social security for unorganized workers and the scheduled castes sub-plan.
At present, the Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act, 1986, prohibits “employment of children in certain occupations and processes”.
While the prohibited occupations include work related to the construction of railway stations, the port authority, slaughterhouses and cinder picking, those under the definition of prohibited processes include bidi-making, carpet-making and soap manufacturing.
NAC in its meeting on Friday, however, did not discuss the recent affidavit of the Planning Commission’s view that the spending threshold per capita for estimating the below poverty line population was Rs 32 a day for cities and Rs 26 for villages.
“We have spoken about it as campaigners for Right to Food; we did not discuss it in the meeting today,” said Aruna Roy, an NAC member. Earlier, NAC members including Roy, Mander and N.C. Saxena had criticized the submission of the Planning Commission.
NAC also discussed the modalities for the prelegislative consultative process. The council aims to involve civil society in the formulation of important policies and laws. “We discussed the modalities today; there was nothing final,” Roy said.
NAC, which usually meets every month, met after a gap of three months on Friday because its chairperson, Gandhi, was unavailable because of ill health. Gandhi, however, chaired its meeting on Friday.