The Rajya Sabha passed the Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Amendment Bill, which prohibits employment of children below 14 years in all occupations except in family business, with the provision for imprisonment of up to two years for any violation.
The Bill, which provides for enhanced punishment for violators, was passed by a voice vote.
It defines children between 14-18 years as adolescents and says that children should not be employed in any hazardous occupations.
The penalty for employing a child has been increased to imprisonment between six months and two years (from three months to one year), or a fine of Rs 20,000 to Rs 50,000 (from Rs 10,000-20,000) or both.
Giving his own example, how he helped his mother after school hours, Minister of State for Labour and Employment Bandaru Dattatreya told the Upper House that he had to work with his mother after attending classes as she could not afford a paid helper.
“India is a different country. We must understand its culture and economy (before formulating any law),” he said replying to a debate on the bill.
According to provisions of the Bill, no child should be employed in any occupation or process except where he or she helps his family after school hours or helps his family in the fields, home based work, forest gathering or attends technical institutions during vacations for the purpose of learning.
Dattatreya said the bill is aimed at “total abolition of child labour” in the country.
“Main objective of this act is total eradication of child labour. We have made it a cognisable offence,” the minister said.