New Delhi(Web Team): The Union Cabinet has approved provisions to the Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Amendment Bill, 2012. The decision was taken at a Cabinet meeting in New Delhi on Wednesday.

According to the amendment, children below the age of 14, cannot be employed anywhere, except in non-hazardous family enterprises or the entertainment industry. The latter includes working as an artist in an audio-visual entertainment industry, advertisement, films, television serials or any such other entertainment or sports activities, except the circus. The original child labour law banned employment of children below 14 years of age in only 18 hazardous industries.

The amendments have also relaxed the penal provisions for parents or guardians, who were earlier subjected to the same punishment as the employer of the child. However, in case of parents being repeat offenders, they may be penalised with a monetary fine up to Rs 10,000.
However, employers would be penalised even for the first offence:
- In case of first offence, the penalty for employers has been increased up to two and half times from the existing up to Rs 20 thousand to up to Rs 50,000 now and imprisonment for a term not less than six months but which may extend to two years.
- In case of a second or subsequent offence of employing any child or adolescent in contravention of the law, the minimum imprisonment would be one year which may extend to three years.
- Earlier, the penalty for second or subsequent offence of employing any child in contravention of the law was imprisonment for a minimum term of six months which may extend to two years.

A new definition of adolescent has also been introduced in the amendment and employment of adolescents (14 to 18 years of age) has also been prohibited in hazardous occupations and processes.

The bill also provides that the offence of employing any child or adolescent in contravention of the Act by an employer will be cognizable, which allows police to arrest without a warrant.

However, critics said that the amendments partially legitimises child labour. They question how it would be ensured that the child is working in a non-hazardous family enterprise and that he/she would be doing so only after school hours.

The proposal also provides for the setting up of a Child and Adolescent Labour Rehabilitation Fund for one or more districts for rehabilitation of children or adolescents rescued. Thus, the Act itself will provide for a fund to carry out rehabilitation activities.


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