Child panel orders payment of wages to dead boy’s kin

The Kerala State Commission for Protection of Child Rights has directed that the wages of children working in an establishment subject to the provisions of the Child and Adolescent Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act, 1986, cannot be blocked citing some misdeed committed by them.

Acting on a petition from Premkumar, a resident of Muttil, Wayanad, the commission, comprising members K. Nazeer and B. Babitha, also directed the Labour Secretary and the Labour Commissioner to issue orders asking employers to follow the panel’s directions strictly.

The petitioner had said that owing to financial difficulties experienced by him, his 18-year-old elder son had sought work in a footwear shop at Kambalakkad.

He had worked there for six days and the petitioner’s younger son, aged 16, for two days. His younger son had taken a pair of shoes from the shop, and owing to mental anguish over the store owner telling the elder brother about the act, the younger one had committed suicide. Alleging that mental harassment by the store owner led to his younger son’s suicide, Premkumar had sought an investigation by the commission and legal action on its basis.

The District Police Chief of Wayanad, in his report to the commission, said a case had been registered at the Kalpetta police station in connection with the suicide and an investigation was conducted.

During the inquest, 17 witnesses, including the doctor who conducted the post-mortem examination and the relatives of the deceased, were questioned. From their statements, it became clear that the younger boy had taken a pair of shoes from the shop where he worked without the owner’s knowledge.

When the older son came to the shop seeking payment of dues for having worked there earlier, the owner told him about the shoes being lifted. As the shoes taken belonged to two pairs for the same leg, he had effectively lost two pairs, the owner said, deducting ₹1,500 from the money due to the elder son. In anguish over his brother and colleagues coming to know about the incident and his brother informing his father, the younger son committed suicide.

The report also said that no evidence had been found that the store owner had mentally harassed the boy in any manner or to suspect that this led him to commit suicide.

As it was made clear that the store owner did not prompt the boy’s death, the commission did not make any recommendations on the matter.

Children, it said, could be engaged in work only as per the provisions of the Child and Adolescent Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act, 1986, and the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015.

When children were employed in legally allowed work, payment of their wages could not be denied on the grounds that they had committed some undesirable actions, the commission said, directing the District Labour Officer to take steps to recover the pending dues from the owner of the shop where the child worked and hand it over to the family.

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Printable version | Sep 28, 2021 3:39:36 AM |

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