Mumbai: The Bombay High Court has described the Maharashtra government’s approach as ‘insensitive’ towards child labour. The court has accordingly directed the government to consider including ‘domestic work’ in the list of ‘hazardous employment,’ which is banned under the Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act. A division bench of Justice Satyaranjan Dharmadhikari and Justice Bharati Dangre also revived the 14-member supervisory committee, which was constituted a decade ago to oversee the issue of child labour.
Justice Dharmadhikari said, “Child labour is an international concern and destroys the future of a child but despite a legislation it exists widely. Though this petition is being heard for the last one decade, except filing affidavits from time-to-time, we do not feel the government has addressed the core grievances. Given its approach, we feel that the government has been insensitive to the entire issue.”
The judges noted that apart from working in factories and bakeries, some children are forced to work as domestic help. They said, “Children of tender age are engaged in household work and though the government may feel that the work is not hazardous, we would like it to consider whether or not such employment amounts to exploitation, which deprives the child of his fundamental right to pursue education.”
The judges also noted that the various departments of the government have restricted their role in working towards eradication of child labour. They said, “Child labour is on account of several factors like poverty, unemployment, absence of means of survival and lack of education. The problem has to be addressed from different perspectives and mere prohibition of child labour and rescue of bonded children is not sufficient. It is necessary to ensure that rescued children are rehabilitated and repatriated to their families and also granted education.”
Accordingly, the judges directed the Education Department to spell out the steps it has taken and would undertake to ensure that a rescued child gets necessary education. The judges have also asked all departments to work as a ‘team’ so that the social evil is eradicated. The matter would be taken up for hearing after eight weeks.