Chairperson of Child Welfare Committee Asha Nayak has accused doctors of manipulating age certificates to allow violators of anti-child labour laws go scot-free.

Addressing a gathering at Town Hall on the occasion of the World Day Against Child Labour on Wednesday, Ms. Nayak said children rescued from houses, including from the houses of government officials, were invariably certified as being aged above 15. “But we and the Labour Department officials know for sure that the child is aged below 14. But we cannot do much when age certificate issued by doctors allows perpetrators go scot-free.” Such manipulation throws a spanner in the works of the Labour Department, the CWC and Government towards eliminating child labour, she said.

Ms. Nayak said the law-breakers can be booked only based after government doctors certified the age of the suspected child labourer. A person found guilty under anti-child labour laws can be slapped with a maximum penalty of Rs.20, 000 or a maximum jail term of six months.

Ms. Nayak called for amending law to enable authorities take second opinion on certificates issued by government doctors.

In-charge District Surgeon at the Wenlock Hospital S. Erappa, however, ruled out manipulating the age certificate of a child in suspected cases of child labour. Dr. Erappa told The Hindu that certificates were issued after taking the x-ray of the child and examining the child’s teeth. “With the results we cannot give the exact age but only the probable age that can vary by three to four years. Physical features of the child cannot reveal the age.”

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