Status of Child Labour in India

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Table of Contents

1. The facts mentioned in the case of M C Mehta Vs. State of Tamil Nadu3 2. Court’s Decision5
3. International Perspectives on Child labour6
3.1 Child labour Practices around the World7
3.2 Some of the Good Practices on Child labour across the World8 4. Evolution of the constitutional and legal provisions relating to child labour in India11 5. Suggestions (legal as well as non-legal) for tackling the child labour problem14 Legal suggestions14

Non-Legal suggestions14
6. References15

1. The facts mentioned in the case of M C Mehta Vs. State of Tamil Nadu

Petitioner: - M.C. MEHTA Vs. Respondent: - State of TAMIL NADU and OTHERS Date of Judgement: 10/12/1996
Bench consisted of Judges:- Kuldip Singh, B.L. Hansaria, S.B. Majumdar In Sivakasi cracker factories, as on 31-12-1985:

• Number of registered match factories=221

• Total workmen= 27, 338

• Number of children employed=2941

Occurrence of a major accident in Sivakasi and happenings thereafter (facts in the case)

In an "unfortunate accident", in one of the Sivakasi cracker factories:- The number of persons who died was stated as 39 by the Tamil Nadu Government.

In our country, Sivakasi has been the worst offender in the matter of violating “prohibition of employing child labour”. In lieu of this, the public-spirited lawyer, Shri M.C. Mehta invoked the Court's power under Article 32, because it was the violation of the fundamental right of the children guaranteed by Article 24.

An advocates' committee was formed to visit the area and make a comprehensive report relating to the various aspects of the matter. The Committee members were:

• Shri R. K. Jain, a Senior Advocate

• Ms Indira Jaising, another Senior Advocate

• Shri K. C. Dua, advocate.

The court rejected the following affidavits in regard to this case and decided to uphold the recommendations of the committee:-

• An affidavit of the President of the All India Chamber of Match Industries, Sivakasi, on record which contains its reaction to the recommendations of the Committee

• An affidavit filed by the President of Tamil Nadu Fireworks and Amorces Manufactures' Association

The court mentioned the following facts of violations of prohibition of child labour at Sivakasi:-

• First of these reports is of a Committee which had been constituted by the Labour Department by the Tamil Nadu Government vide its GOMs dated 19-3-1984, under the Chairmanship of Thiru N. Haribhaskar. The report of the Committee is voluminous, as it runs into 181 pages and contains a number of annexure. The Committee reviewed the working conditions and measures taken to mitigate the sufferings of the child labour and has made various recommendations This work is of October 1985

• Second report deals with the causes and circumstances of the fire explosions which had taken place on 12-7-1991 at Dawn Amorces Fireworks Industries and it contains remedial measures

• Third and the final report relating to Sivakasi workers which relates to elimination of child labour in the match and fireworks industries in Tamil Nadu is of 30-3-1993. The representatives of the Department of Labour and Employment, Social Welfare and Education had prepared this report in collaboration with UNICEF and it speaks of "A proposed strategy framework"

A 16-member Committee had come to be set up by a resolution of the Labour Ministry dated 6-2-1979 and 7-2-1979 under the Chairmanship of Shri M.S. Gurupadaswamy.

The report’s (dated 24-6-1981) conclusion regarding child labour which was considered in the case:

“Extreme poverty, lack of opportunity for gainful employment and intermittency of income and low standards of living are the main reasons for the wide prevalence of child labour. Though it is possible to identify child labour in the organised sector, which forms a minuscule of the total child labour, the problem relates mainly...
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