The Lok Sabha on Tuesday passed the Child Labour (Prohibition and Amendment) Bill, 2016, amid a barrage of criticism from BJP MP and former general secretary of the ruling party, Varun Gandhi.
Mr. Gandhi described the amendments to the Child Labour Act that allow children under 14 to work in family enterprises and reduce the number of industries considered hazardous for children from 83 to just three as “lunacy”. The Rajya Sabha already cleared the Bill on July 19.
“It’s not leniency, but lunacy,” Mr. Gandhi said referring to provisions on punishment for violation of the child labour laws. He wanted to know how the authorities would determine whether the parent violating the law was a first-time offender or a repeat offender.
Under the amendment, there is no punishment for a first-time offender parent but there is provision for penalty for repeat offenders. Mr. Gandhi raised questions on the implementation of the law especially on prosecution of offenders.
He also demanded that the list of hazardous industries for purposes of child labour laws be expanded to include construction where children are forced to assist their working parents. He said the provision authorising the government to omit hazardous industries from the list should be removed. Only Parliament should have the authority to prune the list.