10 December 1996
Supreme Court


Case number: W.P.(C) No.-000465-000465 / 1986
Diary number: 65535 / 1986






DATE OF JUDGMENT:       10/12/1996




JUDGMENT:                       J U D G M E N T HANSARIA, J.      "I am the child.      All the world waits for my coming.      All the earth watches with interest to see what I shall      become. Civilization hangs in the balance,      For what I am, the world of tomorrow will be.      I am the child.      You hold in your hand my destiny.      You determine, largely, whether I shall succeed or      fail, Give  me, I  pray you, these things that make for      happiness. Train  me, I  beg  you,  that  I  may  be  a      blessing to the world".                                              Manie Gene Cole      It may be that the aforesaid appeal lies at the back of the saying  that "child  is the  father of  man". To  enable fathering of  a valiant  and vibrant  man, the child must be groomed well  in the  formative years  of his  life. He must receive education,  acquire knowledge  of man  and materials and blossom  in such  an atmosphere that on reaching age, he is found  to be  a man  with a mission, a man who matters so for as the society is concerned. 2.   Our Constitution  makers, wise  and sagacious  as  they were, had  known that  India of  their vision would not be a reality if  the children of the country are not nurtured and educated. For  this, their  exploitation by different profit makers for  their personal gain had to be first indicted. It is this  need, which  has found manifestation in Article 24, which is  one of  the two  provisions  in  Part  IV  of  our Constitution on  the fundamental right against exploitation. The farmers were aware that this prohibition alone would not permit the  child to  contribute  its  mite  to  the  nation building work  unless it  receives at least basic education. Article 45 was therefore inserted in our paramount parchment casting a duty on the state to endeavour to provide free and compulsory education  to children.  (It is  known  that  his provision in  Part V  of  our  Constitution  is,  after  the decision by  a Constitution  Bench of  this  Court  in  Unni Krishnan, 1993-1  SCC 645,  has acquired  the  status  of  a fundamental right).  Our Constitution  contains  some  other



provisions also  to which  we shall  advert later,  desiring that a  child must  be given  opportunity  and  facility  to develop in a healthy manner. 3.   Despite the  above, the  stark reality  is that  in our country like  many others, children are exploited lot. Child labour is  a big  problem and has remained intractable, even after about  50 years  of  our  having  become  independent, despite various  legislative enactments,  to which  we shall refer in  detail subsequently,  prohibiting employment  of a child in a number of occupations and avocations. 3A.  In our  country, Sivakasi  was one  taken as  the worst offender in  the matter of violating prohibition f employing child labour.  As the situation thee had became intolerable, the public  spirited  lawyer,  Shri  MC  Mehta,  thought  it necessary to  invoke this court’s power under Article 32, as after all  the fundamental  right of the children guaranteed by Article  24 was  being grossly  violated. He,  therefore, filed this  petition. It  once come  to be disposed of by an order of October 31, 1990 by nothing that in Sivakasi, as on December 31, 1985, there were 221 registered match factories employing 27,338  workmen of  whom 2941  were children.  The Court then  noted that  the manufacturing process of matches and fireworks (for the manufacture of which also Sivakasi is a traditional centre) is hazardous, giving rise to accidents including fatal  cases. So,  keeping in  view the provisions contained in  Article 39(f)  and 45  of the Constitution, it gave certain  directions as  to how  the quality  of life of children employed  in the  factories could  be improved. The court also  felt the  need of  constituting a  committee  to oversee the directions given. 4.   Subsequently, suo  moto cognizance  was  taken  in  the present  case   itself  when   news  about  an  "unfortunate accident", in  one of  the Sivakasi  cracker  factories  was published.  At   the  direction   of  the  Court,  Tamilnadu Government filed  a detailed  counter stating,  inter  alia, that number of persons to die was 39. The Court gave certain directions regarding the payment of compensation and thought that an advocates committee should visit the area and make a comprehensive report  relating to the various aspects of the matter, as  mentioned in  the order  of August 14, 1991. The committee was  to consist  of (1)  Shri R.K.  Jain, a senior advocate; (2)  Ms. Indira Jaisingh, another senior advocate; and (3) Shri KC Dua, Advocate. 5.   The committee  has done a commendable job. It submitted its report  on 11.11.91 containing many recommendations, the summer of which is to be found at pages 24-25 of the report, reading as below:-      (a)  State of  Tamilnadu should  be      directed to  ensure  that  children      are  not  employed  in  fire  works      factories.      (b)  The children  employed in  the      match   factories    for    packing      purposes must  work in  a  separate      premises for packing.      (c)  Employers   should    not   be      permitted to  take  work  from  the      children for  more than six hours a      day.      (d)  Proper  transport   facilities      should be provided by the employers      and State  Govt. for  travelling of      the children  from their  homes  to      their work places and back.      (e)  Facilities   for   recreation,



    socialisation and  education should      be provided  either in  the factory      or close to the factory.      (f)  Employers     should      make      arrangements  for  providing  basic      diets for  the children and in case      they fail  to do so, the Government      may  be  directed  to  provide  for      basic  diet   -  one   meal  a  day      programme of the State of Tamilnadu      for school children may be extended      to the child worker.      (g)  Piece-rate   wages  should  be      abolished  and  payment  should  be      made on monthly basis. Wages should      be commensurate to the work done by      the children.      (h)  All the workers working in the      industry,  whether   in  registered      factories   or    in   unregistered      factories,   whether   in   cottage      industry  or   on  contract  basis,      should   be   brought   under   the      Insurance Scheme.      (i)  Welfare Fund  -  For  Sivakasi      area, instead of present committee,      a committee  should be  headed by a      retired  High   Court  Judge  or  a      person of  equal  status  with  two      social  workers,   who  should   be      answerable either  to this  Hon’ble      Court or  to the  High Court as may      be directed  by this Hon’ble Court.      Employers  should  be  directed  to      deposit Rs.2/- per month per worker      towards welfare  fund and the State      should  be  directed  to  give  the      matching     contribution.      The      employers of  all  the  industries,      whether   it   is   registered   or      unregistered, whether it is cottage      industry or  on contract  basis, to      deposit  Rs.2/-   per   month   per      worker.      (j)  A  National   Commission   for      children’s welfare should be set up      to  prepare   a  scheme  for  child      labour  abolition   in   a   phased      manner. Such a Commission should be      answerable to  this  Hon’ble  Court      directly and  should report to this      Hon’ble   Court    at    periodical      intervals about the progress. 6.   We put  on record  our appreciation for the commendable work done by the committee. 7.   There is an affidavit of the president of the All India Chamber of  Match  Industries,  Sivakasi,  on  record  which contains its  reaction to  the recommendations of Committee. It is  not necessary  to deal with this affidavit. Objection to the  Committee’s recommendations  was also  filed by  the President of  Tamilnadu Fireworks  and Amorces  Manufactures Association. We do not propose to traverse this affidavit as well. Both of these contain general statements and denial of what was found by the Committee. 8.   For the  sake of  completeness, it  may be  stated that



there are  on record  various  report  relating  to  working conditions etc.  of child labour at Sivakasi. First of these reports is  of a Committee which had been constituted by the Labour Department  by the  Tamilnadu Government  vide its GO MS.  dated  19.3.34,  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 annexures. The Committee  reviewed the  working conditions and measures taken to mitigate the sufferings of the child labour and has made various recommendations in Chapter XI of its report. We also have  a work  of collector of Kamarajar District titled "Integrated Project  for the Betterment of Living Conditions of  Women  and  Children  Employed  in  Match  Factories  in Sivakasi area."  This work  is of October 1985. There is yet another report  dealing with the causes and circumstances of the fire explosions which had taken place on 12.7.91 at Dawn Amorces  Fireworks   Industries  and  it  contains  remedial measures. The  final report  relating to Sivakasi workers is of 30th  March, 1993  this relates  to elimination  of child labour in  the match  and firework  industries in Tamilnadu. The  representatives   of  the   Department  of   Labour   & Employment, Social  Welfare ad  Education had  prepared this report in  collaboration with  UNICEF and  it speaks  of  "A proposed strategy framework." 9.   The Government  of India  as well  has  been  apprising itself about the various aspects relating to child labour in various industries. A 16 member committee had come to be set up  by  a  resolution  of  the  Labour  Ministry  dated  6/7 February,  1979   under  the   chairmanship  of   Shri  M.S. Gurupadaswamy.  The   Committee  submitted   its  report  on 29.12.79  and   made  various   recommendations  which   are contained in Chapter V The Labour Ministry, had subsequently surveyed the  problem of  child labour  departmentally, as a part  of   the  observance   of  International   Child  Year Programme. The  report (dated  24.6.81) mentions  about  the survey conducted in certain organised and unorganised sector of industries.  It contains  an account of employment, wages and earnings,  working  conditions  and  welfare  activities relating to  child labour  both in organised and unorganised sectors. Chapter III of the report contains the conclusions, of which  what has  been stated  in para  4.5 deserves to be noted. The same is as below:-      Extreme    poverty,     lack     of      opportunity for  gainful employment      and intermittancy of income and low      standards of  living  are  the  man      reasons for  the wide prevalence of      child labour. Though it is possible      to identify  child  labour  in  the      organised  sector,   which  form  a      minuscule  of   the   total   child      labour, the  problem relates mainly      to  the  unorganised  sector  where      utmost attention  needs to be paid.      The problem is universal but in our      case it is more crucial.                  Magnitude of the problem. 10.  Sivakasi has  ceased to  be the  only centre  employing child labour.  The malady  is no  longer  confined  to  that place. 11.  A  write-up   in  Indian   Express  of  25.10.1996  has described Bhavnagar  as another Sivaskasi in making, as that town of  about 4  lakh  population  has  a  t  least  13,000 children employed  in 300  different industries. The problem of child  labour in  India has indeed spread it fang far and



wide. This  would be  apparent from  the chart  which  finds place in  the commendable work of a social anthropologist of United Nations  Volunteer, Neera  Burra, published under the title "Born  to Work  : Child  Labour in India", as at pages XXII to  XXIV of  the book.  It is  useful to  extract  that chart. It is a below:- -------------------------------------------------------------------------- - Industry            Location         Total          Child   Percentage   o f                                      Workers        Workers Child Workers                                                             to total                                                             workers -------------------------------------------------------------------------- - Slate pencil        Mandsaur,         12,000        1000         8.3                     Madhya Pradesh Slate               Markapur,         15,000        app.3750     25                     Andhra Pradesh Diamond-cutting     Surat, Gujarat    100,000       15,000       15 Agate-cutting       Cambay, Gujarat   30,000       not known     - Gem Polishing       Jaipur, Rajasthan 60,000        13,600       22.6 Powerloom Bhiwandi, Maharashtra       300,000       15,000        5 Cotton hosiery      Tiruppur,         30,000         8,000       33.3                     Tamilnadu Carpet weaving      Mirzapur-Bhadohi  200,000       150,000       75                     Uttar Pradesh Carpet weaving      Jammu & Kashmir app. 400,000    100,000       25 Carpet weaving      Rajasthan          30,000       12000         40 Lock-making         Aligarh,           80,000,      7,000         8.7                     Uttar Pradesh      90,000      10,000         11.1 Pottery             Khurja,            20,000       5,000         25                     Uttar Pradesh Brass Ware          Moradabad,         150,000     40,000,       26.6,                     Uttar Pradesh                  45,000        30.0 Match               Sivakasi,         not known    45,000         -                     Tamilnadu Glass               Firozabad,         200,000     50,000         25                     Uttar Pradesh Silk and            Varanasi,          11,900      4,409          37 silk products       Uttar Pradesh Textile             Varanasi,          3,512       1,108          31.5                     Uttar Pradesh Knives              Rampur,            not known   3,000           -                     Uttar Pradesh Handicrafts         Jammu & Kashmir    90,000      26,478         29.42 Silk weaving        Bihar             not known   10,000            - Brocade and         Varanasi and      not known   300,000           - Zari industry       other centres,                     Uttar Pradesh Brick-kilns         West Bengal       not known   35,000            - Beedi               India             3,275,000   3,275,00         10 Circus industry     40 major circuses                       12% of the                                                             entire labour                                                             strength Handloom and        Jammu & Kashmir     116,000   28,348           25 Handicraft Industry -------------------------------------------------------------------------- -                         (Source material ommitted) 11.  According to the 1971 census 4.66 per cent of the child population  in  India  consisted  of  working  children.  In absolute numbers,  the 1971  census put  the figure  at 10.7 million working  children. On  the basis  of National Sample Survey 27th  round (1972-73)  the number of working children



as on  March, 1973  in the  age group  of 5-14 years’ may be estimated at 16.3 million and based on the 32 round at 16.25 million on  1st March,  1978 (14.68  million rural  and 1.57 million urban). According to 1981 census the figure has gone to 11.16  million working  children.  As  estimated  by  the Planning Commission on 1st March, 1983, there would be 15.70 million child  laborers, (14.03 rural and 1.67 urban) in the age group of 10-14 years’ and 17.36 million in the age group of 5-14  years’. The  National  Sample  Survey  Organisation estimates the  number at  17.58 million in 1985. None of the official estimates included child workers in the unorganised sector, and  therefore, are obviously gross under estimates. Estimates from  various non-governmental  sources as  to the actual number  working children range from 44 million to 100 million.      (Figures of  1981 census  have been  quoted because the report relating to 1991 census has not yet been made public. It is understood that the same is under publication). 12.  The aforesaid profile shows that child labour by now is an all-India evil, though its acuteness differs from area to area. So,  without a  concerted effort,  both of the Central government and  various  State  governments,  this  ignominy would not  get wiped out. We have, therefore, thought it fit to travel  beyond the  confines of  Sivakasi to  which place this petition  initially related.  In our  view, it would be more appropriate  to deal  with the  issue in wider spectrum and broader  perspective taking it as a national problem and not appertaining  to any  one region  of the country. So, we would address  ourselves as  to how we can, and are required to, tackle the problem of child labour, solution of which is necessary to build a better India.                      Constitution Call 13.  To accomplish the aforesaid task, we have first to note the constitutional  mandate and  call on  the subject, which are contained in the following articles:      "24. Prohibition  of employment  of      children  in  factories,  etc.-  No      child below  the  age  of  fourteen      years shall  be employed to work in      any factory  or mine  or engaged in      any other hazardous employment.      39(e). that the health and strength      of workers,  men and women, and the      tender  age  of  children  are  not      abused and  that citizens  are  not      forced  by  economic  necessity  to      enter avocations  unsuited to their      age or strength:      39(f).  that   children  are  given      opportunities  and   facilities  to      develop in  a healthy manner and in      conditions of  freedom and  dignity      and that  childhood and  youth  are      protected against  exploitation and      against    moral    and    material      abandonment.      41. Right to work, to education and      to  public  assistance  in  certain      cases.- The State shall, within the      limits of its economic capacity and      development,     make     effective      provision for securing the right to      work, to  education and  to  public      assistance     in      cases     of      unemployment, old age, sickness and



    disablement, and  in other cases of      undeserved want.      45.   Provision    for   free   and      compulsory education for children.-      The  State   shall   endeavour   to      provide, within  a  period  of  ten      years from the commencement of this      Constitution,    for    free    and      compulsory   education    for   all      children until  they  complete  the      age of fourteen years.      47. Duty  of the State to raise the      level of nutrition and the standard      of living  and  to  improve  public      health.- The State shall regard the      raising of  the level  of nutrition      and the  standard of  living of its      people  and   the  improvement   of      public health  as among its primary      duties  and,   in  particular,  the      State  shall   endeavour  to  bring      about    prohibition     of     the      consumption  except  for  medicinal      purposes of intoxicating drinks and      of drugs  which  are  injurious  to      health." 14.  Of the  aforesaid provisions,  the one finding place in Article 24  has been  a fundamental  right ever  since  28th January, 1950.  Article 45  too  has  been  raised  to  high pedestal  by   Unni  Krishnan,  which  was  decided  on  4th February, 1993.  Though other articles are part of directive principles, there  are fundamental  in the governance of our country and it is the duty of all the organs of the State (a la Article  37) to  apply these principles. Judiciary, being also one  of the three principal organs of the State, has to keep the  same in mind when called upon to decide matters of great  public  importance.  Abolition  of  child  labour  is definitely  a   matter   of   great   public   concern   and significance.                   International commitment 15.  It would  be apposite  to apprise  ourselves also about our commitment  to world  community. For the case at hand it would  be  enough  to  note  that  India  has  accepted  the Convention on  the Rights  of the Child, which was concluded by the  UN General  Assembly on  20th November,  1989.  This Convention affirms  that children’s  right  require  special protection and it aims, not only to provide such protection, but  also  to  ensure  the  continuous  improvement  in  the situation of  children all  over the world, as well as their development  and   education  in  conditions  of  peace  and security. Thus, the Convection not only protects the child’s civil and  political right,  but also  extends protection to child’s economic, social, cultural and humanitarian rights. 16.  The Government  of India  deposited its  instrument  of accession tot he above-mentioned conventions on December 11, 1992  with   the  United  Nation’s  Secretary-General.  That instrument contains the following declaration      "While  fully  subscribing  to  the      objectives  and   purposes  of  the      Convention, realising  that certain      of the  rights of the child, namely      those pertaining  to the  economic,      social and cultural rights can only      be progressively implemented in the      developing  countries,  subject  to



    the extent  of available  resources      and   within   the   framework   of      international         co-operation;      recognising that  the child  has to      be protected  from exploitation  of      all   forms    including   economic      exploitation;  nothing   that   for      several   reasons    children    of      different ages  do work  in  India;      having prescribed  minimum ages for      employment in hazardous occupations      and in  certain other areas; having      made     regulatory      provisions      regarding hours  and conditions  of      employment; and being aware that it      is  not  practical  immediately  to      prescribe    minimum    ages    for      admission to each and every area of      employment in  India-the Government      of   India   undertakes   to   take      measures to progressively implement      the  provisions   of  Article   32,      particularly  paragraph   2(a),  in      accordance   with    its   national      legislation      and       relevant      international instruments  to which      it is a State Party." 17.  Article 32  of which  mention  has  been  made  in  the instrument of accession reads as below :      "1.  States Parties  recognise  the           right  of   the  child  to  be           protected    from     economic           exploitation     and      from           performing any  work  that  is           likely to  be hazardous  or to           interfere  with   the  child’s           education, or to be harmful to           the    child’s    health    or           physical,  mental,  spiritual,           moral or social development.      2.   States  Parties   shall   take           legislative,   administrative,           social     and     educational           measures   to    ensure    the           implementation of  the present           article.  To   this  end,  and           having regard  to the relevant           provisions      of       other           international     instruments,           States   Parties    shall   in           particular :      (a)  Provide for  a minimum  age or      minimum  ages   for  admission   to      employment’      (b)  Provide    for     appropriate      regulation   of   the   hours   and      conditions of employment;      (c)  Provide    for     appropriate      penalties  or  other  sanctions  to      ensure the effective enforcement of      the present article."                     Statutory provisions 18.  We may  now note  as to how the problem of child labour has been  viewed by  our policy makers and what efforts have been made  to take  care of  this evil.  We have  shown  our



concern in  this sphere  ever since the International Labour Organisation, set  up in  1919 under  the League of Nations, had felt  that there  should be  international guidelines by which the  employment of  children under a certain age could be regulated  in  industrial  undertakings.  It,  therefore, suggested that the minimum age of work be 12 years. The same required ratification  by the  Government of  British India; and during the Legislative Assembly debates, the question of raising the  minimum age  from 9  t 12  years had  created a furore. The  Hon’ble Sir  Thomas Holland  had  said  in  the Legislative Assembly  in February  1921 that  if the minimum age were raise, the same would upset the organisational set- up of  most textile mills which were the principal employees of children.  On the  other hand,  there were those who felt that the  answer tot  eh problem  lay in  compulsory primary education. The  House ultimately was divided with 32 members voting for  raising the  minimum age  to 12  and  40  voting against it.  The Assembly,  therefore,  recommended  to  the Governor-General-in-Council that the Draft Convention should be ratified with certain observation. 19.  May  it   be  stated   that  the  International  Labour Organisation has  been playing  an  important  role  in  the process of  gradual  elimination  of  child  labour  and  to protect child  from industrial  exploitation. It has focused five main issues :- 1.   Prohibition of children labour. 2.   Protecting child labour at work. 3.   Attacking the basic causes of child labour. 4.   Helping children to adopt to future work. 5.   Protecting the children of working parents.      Till now  18 Conventions  and 16  recommendations  have been adopted  by the ILO in the interest of working children all over the world. 20.  To continue  our narration of steps taken here, a Royal Commission on  Labour came  to be  established  in  1929  to inquire into  various matters  relating to  labour  in  this country. The report came to be finalised in 1931. It brought to light many inequities and shocking conditions under which children worked.  The Commission  had examined to conditions of child  labour in  different industries and had found that children had  been obliged  to work  any number of hours per day as  required by  their masters.  It was  also found that they were subject to corporal punishment. The Commission had felt great  concern at the placing of children by parents to employers in  return for  small sums  of money;  and as this system was  found to be indefensible it recommended that any bond placing a child should be regarded as void. 21.  The  recommendations  of  the  Commission  came  to  be discussed in  the  Legislative  Assembly  and  the  Children (Pleading of  Labour) Act, 1933 came to be passed, which may be said  to be  the first  statutory enactment  dealing with child labour. Many statutes came to be passed thereafter. As on today,  the following legislative enactments are in force prohibiting  employment   of  child   labours  in  different occupations :      (i)  Section 67  of Factories  Act,      1948:           "Prohibition of  employment of      young children-  No child  who  has      not completed  his fourteenth  year      shall be  required  or  allowed  to      work in any factory."      (ii)  Section   24  of   Plantation      Labour Act, 1951:           "No   child    who   has   not



    completed his twelfth year shall be      required or  allowed to work in any      plantation".      (iii)  Section   109  of   Merchant      Shipping Act, 1951:           "No person under fifteen years      of age  shall be engaged or carried      to sea  to work  in any capacity in      any ship, except-      (a)  in a  school ship, or training      ship,  in   accordance   with   the      prescribed conditions; or      (b)  in a ship in which all persons      employed are members of one family;      or      (c)  in a  home-trade ship  of less      than two hundred tons gross; or      (d)  where such  person  is  to  be      employed on  nominal wages and will      be in  the charge  of his father or      other adult near male relative."      (iv) Section  45   of  Mines   Act,      1952:-      (i)  "No child shall be employed in      any mine,  nor shall  any child  be      allowed to  be present  in any part      of a  mine which is below ground or      in any (open cast working) in which      any  mining   operation  is   being      carried on.      (2)  After such date as the Central      Government may,  by notification in      the Official  Gazette,  appoint  in      this  behalf,  no  child  shall  be      allowed to  be present  in any part      of a  mine above  ground where  any      operation   connected    with    or      incidental    to    any    minining      operation is being carried on."      (v)  Section 21  of Motor Transport      Workers Act, 1961:-           "No child shall be required or      allowed to  work in any capacity in      any motor transport undertaking."      (vi) Section  3 of Apprentices Act,      1961:-      Qualifications for being engaged as      an apprentice:-  A person shall not      be qualified  for being  engaged as      an    apprentice     to     undergo      apprenticeship  training   in   any      designated trade, unless he-      (a)  is  not   less  than  fourteen      years of age, and      (b)  satisfies  such  standards  of      education and  physical fitness  as      may be prescribed:      Provided that  different  standards      may be  prescribed in  relation  to      apprenticeship     training      in      different designated trades and for      different       categories       of      apprentices.      (vii) Section 24 of Beedi and Cigar      Workers (Conditions  of  Employment



    Act, 1966:-           "Prohibition of  employment of      children-No child shall be required      or   allowed   to   work   in   any      industrial premises."      (viii)  Child  Labour  (Prohibition      and Regulation)  Act, 1986. (Act 61      of 1986).      (ix) Shops      and      Commercial      Establishment Acts  under different      nomenclatures in various States. 22.  The aforesaid  shows that  the legislature has strongly desired prohibition  of child  labour. Act 61 of 1986 is, ex facie, a  bold step.  The provisions of this Act, other than Part III,  came into  force at once and for Part III to come into force,  a notification  by the  Central  Government  is visualised by  section 1(3), which notification covering all classes of  establishments throughout the territory of India was issued on May 26, 1993. 23.  Section 3  of this  Act has  prohibited  employment  of children in certain occupations and processes. Part A of the Schedule to the Act contains the names of the occupations in which no  child can be employed or permitted to work; and in Para B  names on some processes have been mentioned in which no child  can be  employed or permitted to work. It would be profitable to quote Parts A and B of the Schedule which read as below:                            Part A                         Occupations      Any occupation connected with - (1)  transport of passengers, goods or mails by railway; (2)  cinder picking,  clearing of  an  ash  pit  of-building      operation in the railway premises; (3)  work in  a catering  establishment at a railway station      involving  the  movement  of  a  vendor  or  any  other      employee of  the establishment  from  one  platform  to      another or into or out of a moving train; (4)  work relating  to the construction of a railway station      or with any other work where such work is done in close      proximity to or between the railway lines; and (5)  a port authority within the limits of any port.                           Part B:                          Processes (1)  Bidi-making. (2)  Carpet-weaving. (3)  Cement manufacture, including bagging of cement. (4)  Cloth printing, dyeing and weaving. (5)  Manufacture of matches, explosives and fire-works. (6)  Mica-cutting and splitting. (7)  Shellac manufacture. (8)  Soap manufacture. (9)  Tanning. (10) Wool-cleaning. (11) Building and construction industry. 24.  Section 14  of the Act has provided for punishment upto 1  year   (minimum  being   3  months)  or  with  find  upto Rs.20,000/- (minimum  being ten  thousand) or  with both, to one  who   employs  or   permits  any   child  to   work  in contravention of  provisions in  section 3.  Even so,  it is common  experience   that  child   labour  continues  to  be employed. As  to why  this has  happened despite  the Act of 1986, has come to be discussed by Neera Burra, in her afore- mentioned book  at pages  246 to  230 o the 1995 edition. It has  been   first  pointed  out  that  the  occupations  and processes  dealt  by  the  Act  are  same  about  which  the



replealed statute  (Employment of  Children Act,  1938)  had mentioned, except  that in  Part B,  one  process  has  been added- the  same being "building and construction industry". According to  Neera, there  are a number of loopholes in the Act which has made it "completely ineffective instrument for the removal  of children  working in  industry". One  of the clear loopholes  mentioned is  that children can continue to work if  they are  a part  of family  of labour.  It is  not necessary for  our purpose  to  go  into  other  infirmities pointed out. Nonetheless, it deserves to be pointed out that the Act  does not  use the  word "hazardous"  anywhere,  the implication of which is the children may continue to work in those processes  not involving chemicals. Neera has tried to show how  impracticable and  unrealistic it  is  to  draw  a distinction between hazardous and non-hazardous processes in a particular  industry. The suggestion given is that what is required is  to list  the whole industry as banned for child labour, which would make the task of enforcement simpler and strategies of evasion more difficult.                       Failure : causes 25.  We have,  therefore, to  see as to why is it that child labour  has   continued  despite   the  aforesaid  statutory enactments. This  has been  a subject  of study  by  a  good number of  authors. It would be enough to note what has been pointed  out   in  "Indian   Child  Labour"   by  Dr.   J.C. Kulshreshtha. This  aspect has  been dealt  in  Chapter  II. According to  the author,  the causes  of failure  are : (1) poverty; (2)  low wages  of the adult; (3) unemployment; (4) absence of  schemes for  family allowance;  (5) migration to urban areas;  (6) large families; (7) children being cheaply available; (8)  non-existence of  provisions for  compulsory education; (9) illiteracy and ignorance of parents; and (10) traditional attitudes.  Nazir Ahmad  Shah has also expressed similar views  in his  book "Child  Labour in India". In the article at  pages 65  to 68 of 1993(3) SCJ (Journal Section) titled "Causes  of  the  exploitation  of  child  labour  in India", Dr.  Amar  Singh  and  Raghuvinder  Singh,  who  are attached to Himachal Pradesh University, have taken the same views. 26.  Of the  aforesaid causes,  it  seems  to  us  that  the poverty is  basic reason  which compels  parents of a child, despite their  unwillingness, to get it employed. The Survey Report of the Ministry of Labour (supra) had also so stated. Otherwise, no  parents, specially no mother, would like that a tender  aged child should toil in a factory in a difficult condition, instead  of it enjoying its childhood at home the paternal gaze.                         What to do? 27.  It may  be that  the problem  would be taken care of to some extent  by insisting  on compulsory  education. Indeed, Neera thinks  that if  there  is  at  all  a  blueprint  for tackling the  problem of child labour, it is education. Even if it  were to  be so,  the child of a poor parent would not receive education,  if per  force it has to earn to make the family meet  both the  ends. therefore, unless the family is assured of  income allude,  problem of  child  labour  would hardly get  solved; and  it is this vital question which has remained almost  unattended. We  are, however,  of the  view that till  an alternative  income is  assured to the family, the question  of abolition  of  child  labour  would  really remain a will-o’-the wisp. Now, if employment of child below that age  of 14  is a  constitutional indication  insofar as work in any factory or mine or engagement in other hazardous work, and  if it  has to be seen that all children are given education till  the age  of 14 years in view of this being a



fundamental right  now, and  if the wish embodied in Article 39(e) that  the tender  age of  children is  not abused  and citizens are  not forced  by  economic  necessity  to  enter avocation unsuited  to their  age, and if children are to be given opportunities  and facilities  to develop in a healthy manner and childhood is to be protected against exploitation as visualised  by Article  39(f), it  seems to  us that  the least  we   ought  to  do  is  see  to  the  fulfillment  of legislative intendment  behind enactment of the Child Labour (Prohibition and  Regulation)  Act,  1986.  Taking  guidance therefrom, we  are of  the view  that the offending employer must be  asked to  pay compensation for every child employed in contravention  of the  provisions of  the Act  a  sum  of Rs.20,000/-;  and   the  Inspectors,  whose  appointment  is visualised by  section 17  to  secure  compliance  with  the provisions of  the Act,  should do  this job. The inspectors appointed under  section 17  would see  that for  each child employed in  violation of  the provisions  of the  Act,  the concerned employer  pays  Rs.20,000/-  which  sum  could  be deposited  in   a  fund   to  be   known  as   Child  Labour Rehabilitation-cum-Welfare  Fund.   The  liability   of  the employer  would  not  cease  even  if  he  would  desire  to disengage the  child presently employed. It would perhaps be appropriate to  have such a fund district wise or area wise. The fund  so generated  shall form corpus whose income shall be used  only for  the concerned child. The quantum could be the income  earned on the corpus deposited qua the child. To generate greater  income, fund  can  be  deposited  in  high yielding scheme  of any  nationalised bank  or other  public body. 28.  As the aforesaid income could not be enough to dissuade the parent/guardian  to seek  employment of  the child,  the State  owes   a  duty  to  come  forward  to  discharge  its obligation in  this regard.  After all,  the  aforementioned constitutional provisions  have to  be  implemented  by  the appropriate Government, which expression has been defined in section  2(i)   of  the   Act  to   mean,  in   relation  to establishment under the control of the Central Government or a railway  administration or  a major  port of a mine or oil field, the  Central Government,  and in all other cases, the State Government. 29.  Now, strictly  speaking a  strong case exists to invoke the and  of an  Article 41 of the Constitution regarding the right to  work and to give meaning to what has been provided in Article  47 relating  to raising of standard of living of the population,  and Articles  39(e) and (f) as to non-abuse of tender  age of  children  and  giving  opportunities  and facilities to  them to develop in healthy manner, for asking the State  to see  that an adult member of the family, whose child is  in employment  in a  factory or a mine or in other hazardous work,  gets a  job anywhere, in lieu of the child. This would  also see  the fulfillment  of the wish contained din Article  41 after  about half  a century of its being in the paramount  parchment, like  primary education desired by Article 45,  having been  given the  status  of  fundamental right by the decision in Unni Krishnan. We are, however, not asking  the  State  at  this  stage  to  ensure  alternative employment in  every case  covered by Article 24, as Article 41 speaks  about right  to work  "within the  limits of  the economic capacity  and development  of the  State". The very large number  of child-labour  in the  aforesaid occupations would require  giving of job to very large number of adults, if we  were to  ask the  appropriate  Government  to  assure alternative employment in every case, which would strain the resources of  the State, in case it would not have been able



to secure job for an adult in a private sector establishment or, for  that matter, in a public sector organisation. <??>, we are  not  issuing  any  direction  to  do  so  presently. Instead, we  leave the  matter  to  be  sorted  out  by  the appropriate Government. In those cases where it would not be possible to  provide job as above-mentioned, the appropriate Government would,  as its contribution/grant, deposit in the aforesaid Fund  a sum  of Rs.5,000/- for each child employed in a factory or mine or in any other hazardous employment. 30.  The aforesaid  would either  see an  adult (whose  name would be  suggested by  the parent/guardian of the concerned child) getting  a job  in lieu of the child, or deposit of a sum of  Rs.25,000/- in  the Child Labour Rehabilitation-cum- Welfare Fund.  In case  of getting  employment for an adult, the parent/guardian  shall have  to see  that his  child  is spared from the requirement to do the job, as an alternative source of income would have become available to him. 31.  To give  shape to  the aforesaid directions, we require the concerned States to do the following :- (1)  A survey  would be  made of the aforesaid type of child labour which  would be  completed  within  six  months  from today. (2)  to start  with, work  could be taken up regarding those employment which  have been  mentioned in  Article 24, which may be  regarded as  core sector,  to  determine  which  the hazardous  aspect  of  the  employment  would  be  taken  as criterion. The  most hazardous  employment may rank first in priority, to be followed by comparatively less hazardous and so on.  It may  be mentioned  here that  the National  Child Labour Policy  as announced  by the  Government of India has already identified  some industries  for priority action and the industries to identified are as below :-      The match industry in Sivakasi, Tamil Nadu      The diamond polishing industry in Surat, Gujarat.      The precious stone polishing industry in Jaipur,                                              Rajasthan.      The glass industry in Firozabad, Uttar Pradesh.      The brass-ware industry in Mirzapur-Bhadohi,                                         Uttar Pradesh.      The lock-making industry in Aligarh, Uttar Pradesh.      The state industry in Markapur, Andhra Pradesh.      The slate industry in Mandsaur, Madhya Pradesh. (3)  The employment  to be  given as per our direction could be dovetailed  to other  assured employment.  On this  being done, it  is apparent  that our  direction would not require generation of much additional employment. (4)  The employment  so given  could as well be the industry where the  child is employed, a public undertaking and would be manual  in nature  inasmuch as the child in question must be engaged  in doing  manual work.  The understanding chosen for employment shall be one which is nearest to the place of residence of the family. (5)  In those  cases where  alternative employment would not be made  available as  aforesaid, the parent/guardian of the concerned child  would be  paid the  income which  would  be earned on  the corpus,  which would  be a sum of Rs.85,000/- for each child, every month. The employment given or payment made would  cease to  be operative if the child would not be sent by the parent/guardian for education. (6)  On discontinuation  of the employment of the child, his education would  be assured  in suitable  institution with a view to make it a better citizen. It may be pointed out that Article 45  mandates compulsory  education for  all children until they complete the age of 14 years; it is also required to be  free. It  would be  the duty of the Inspectors to see



that this call of the Constitution is carried out. (7)  A district  could be the unit of collection so that the executive head  of the  district keeps a watchful eve on the work of the Inspectors. Further, in view of the magnitude of the task,  a separate  cell in  the Labour Department of the appropriate Government  would be  created. Monitoring of the scheme would  also be  necessary and  the Secretary  of  the Department could perhaps do this work. Overall monitoring by the Ministry  of  Labour.  Government  of  India,  would  be beneficial and worthwhile. (8)  The Secretary  to the Ministry of Labour, Government of India would  apprise this  Court within  one year  of  today about  the   compliance  of  aforesaid  directions.  If  the petitioner would  need any  further of  other order  in  the light of  the compliance  report, it would be open to him to do so. (9)  We should  also like  to observe that on the directions given being  carried out,  penal provision  contained in the aforenoted 1936  Act would  be used  where employment  of  a child labour, prohibited by the Act, would be found. (10) Insofar as  the non-hazardous  jobs are  concerned, the Inspector shall  have to  see that  the working hours of the child are  not more  than four  to six  hours a  day and  it receives education at least for two hours each day. It would also be  see that  the entire  cost of education is borne by the employer. 32.  The task is big, but not as to prove either unwieldy or burdensome. The  financial implication  would be  such as to prove a damper, because the money after all would be used to build up better India. In this context, it is worth pointing out that  covertly as such has not stood in the way of other developing countries  from taking  care of  child labour. It has been  pointed out  by Myron  Weiner (at  page 4  of 1991 Edition) of his book "The Child and the State in India" that India is  a significant exception to the global trend toward the removal  of children  from  the  labour  force  and  the establishment  of   compulsory,  universal   primary  school education, as  many countries  of Africa like Zambia, Ghana, Ivory Coast,  Libya, Zambia,  Zimbabwe, with  income  levels lower than  India, have  done better  in these matters. This shows that has caused the problem of child labour to persist here is  really not  dearth of  resources, but  lack of real zeal. Let  this not  continue, Let  us all  put our head and efforts together  and assist  the child  for  its  good  and greater good of the country. 33.  The writ petition is disposed of accordingly. 34.  We part  with the  fond hope  that the closing years of the twentieth  century would see us keeping the promise made to our  children by  our constitution  about a  half-century ago. Let the child of twenty-first century find himself into that  "heaven   of  freedom"  of  which  our  poet  laureate Rabindranath Tagore has spoken in Gitanjali. 35.  Let a  copy of  this judgment  is to  be sent  to Chief Secretaries  of   all  the   State  Governments   and  union Territories; so  also to  the Secretary, Ministry of Labour, Government of  India for  their information  and  doing  the needful.