Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Amendment Act, 2016 of India

The central legislature of India had promulgated a legislation Child and Adolescent Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act, 1986 (“CL Act”) to regulate the child labour practices in India. The central legislature has made substantial changes in the provisions of the CL Act in the year 2016 and the said amendments have been made effective from July 30, 2016. Pursuant to the said amendment the name of the CL Act has been changed to ‘Child and Adolescent Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act, 1986’. A complete prohibition has been imposed on employment of child labour (i.e. a person below the age of 14 years) in any establishment whether hazardous or not. A child is permitted to work only to help family, in family enterprise or as child artist after school hours or during vacations. The amendment has introduced the concept of adolescent labour for the first time. An adolescent has been defined as a person between the ages of 14-18 years. The amendment permit employment of adolescent labour except in hazardous processes or occupation. The number of hazardous occupations and processes has been reduced from 83 to only 3. The offences under the Act have now been made compoundable and cognizable notwithstanding the provisions of the Criminal Procedure Code. The CL Act provides for rehabilitation of children and adolescent who have been victims under the provisions of the CL Act. It provides for setting up of the Child and Adolescent Labour Rehabilitation Fund in which all the amounts of penalty have to be realised. Liability has been affixed upon the parents and guardian of the affected child/children separately from the employers. The Act provides for increased penalty and imprisonment which shall not be less than 6 months and may extend upto 2 years and fine which may vary between Rs.20, 000 to Rs. 50,000. Previously, the violations under the CL Act were punishable with imprisonment of not less than three months which could extend to one year or/and with fine of ten thousand rupees which could extend to twenty thousand rupees.
While the new amendments appear to be progressive in nature but they have down side also. Like the new amendments put a complete prohibition on employment of children, but at the same time it allows them to be employed in family enterprises/businesses. Considering that majority of child labor activities happen in economically weaker section of the society which is highly unregulated, no proper mechanism has been provided to keep the same in check with the new amendments. Further, the list of hazardous industries has been drastically decreased, this may allow the employers in industries like chemical mixing units, cotton farms, battery recycling units, and brick kilns etc. (which are actually hazardous) to employ adolescent labour, which they may even get at a much cheaper price.
It is therefore more important now for the government to keep a check on the working conditions for adolescent labour as well as the working conditions for children in family run businesses. This would require more personnel deployment which currently is in shortage. The government, in order to effective monitor the ground realities involve and empower the non-governmental organizations and individuals who are actively involved and are working for the said cause.
(The author would like to thank Ritika Modee, Associate of the firm for the valuable assistance in researching for this article.)

Rights of Person with Disabilities Act, 2016 in India

The Government of India has notified the Rights of Person with Disabilities Act, 2016 (“New Act”) to give effect to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto. Previously the subject of disability was dealt under the Persons With Disabilities (Equal Opportunities, Protection of Rights and Full Participation) Act, 1995 (“Old Act”). The number of disabilities recognised under the law has been increased to 17 from 7 recognized under the Old Act, and have been elaborately defined. The law recognizes for the first time blood disorders, intellectual disability, disability caused due to neurological conditions, acid attack etc. as disabilities. The law has become more gender sensitive as separate provisions have been made for women suffering from disability; such as responsibility has been conferred upon the government to ensure that women and children enjoy equal rights, to formulate schemes to support women with disability for livelihood and for upbringing their children, to take accurate measures to promote sexual and reproductive healthcare especially for women with disability. Further for persons with benchmark disabilities a reservation of not less than 5% is to be made in allotment of agriculture and housing land, in poverty alleviation schemes and in allotment of land at concessional rate and in doing so priority has to be given to women. Private establishments have also been covered within the ambit of the new Act. The Act requires the appropriate Government and the local authorities to take necessary steps to ensure barrier-free access in all parts of the Government as well as private hospitals and other healthcare institutions and centres, to the persons with disabilities. Governments as well as private service providers are required to provide services in accordance with the rules on accessibility formulated by the Central Government. No building plan is to be approved unless it complies with the rules of accessibility. Government is required to provide incentives to employers only in private sector to ensure that at least five per cent of their work force is composed of persons with benchmark disability. Also the reservation in government jobs has been increased to 4 % and in educational institution has been increased to 5%. Special powers have been conferred on the Executive Magistrate and Police Officer to deal with complaints of abuse, violence or exploitation against the person with disabilities. The Act also requires the State Governments in concurrence with the Chief Justice of High Court to notify District Court/Court of Session to be special courts for speedy trial of offences under the Act. The Act provides for setting up of National Fund for persons with disabilities. The Act focuses on multiple aspects such as education, skill development, employment, recreation, rehabilitation, health and social security of person with disability.

The New Act can, said to have brought a positive change towards the welfare of the people with disabilities. It can be said that the law has become more profound towards the need and well-being of the people with disabilities.

(The author would like to thank Ritika Modee, Associate of the firm for the valuable assistance in researching for this article.)