Child labour laws in India
In 2011 , the national census of India found that the total number of child labourers, aged
[5–14], to be at 10.1 million, out of the total of 259.64 million children in that age group. The
child labour problem is not unique to India; worldwide, about 217 million children work,
As per the Child and Adolescent Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act, 1986, amended in
2016 ("CLPR Act"), a "Child" is defined as any person below the age of 14, and the CLPR
Act prohibits employment of a Child in any employment including as a domestic help. It is a
cognizable criminal offence to employ a Child for any work. Children between age of 14 and
18 are defined as "Adolescent" and the law allows Adolescent to be employed except in the
listed hazardous occupation and processes which include mining, inflammable substance and
explosives related work and any other hazardous process as per the Factories Act, 1948. In
2001, an estimated 1% of all child workers, or about 1,20,000 children in India were in a
hazardous job. Notably, the Constitution of India prohibits child labour in hazardous
industries (but not in non-hazardous industries) as a Fundamental Right under Article 24.
UNICEF estimates that India with its larger population, has the highest number of labourers
in the world under 14 years of age, while sub-Saharan African countries have the highest
percentage of children who are deployed as child labourers. The International Labour
Organization estimates that agriculture, at 60 percent, is the largest employer of child labour
in the world, while the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization estimates 70% of
child labour is deployed in agriculture and related activities. Outside of agriculture, child
labour is observed in almost all informal sectors of the Indian economy.
Child Labour (Prohibition & Regulation) Amendment Act, 2016
Government has enacted the Child Labour (Prohibition & Regulation) Amendment Act, 2016
which came into force w.e.f. 1.9.2016. The Amendment Act completely prohibits the
employment of children below 14 years. The amendment also prohibits the employment of
adolescents in the age group of 14 to 18 years in hazardous occupations and processes and
regulates their working conditions where they are not prohibited. The amendment also
provides stricter punishment for employers for violation of the Act and making the offence of
employing any child or adolescent in contravention of the Act by an employer as cognizable.
In order to achieve effective enforcement of the provisions of the Act, the amendment
empowers the appropriate Government to confer such powers and impose such duties on a
District Magistrate as may be necessary. Further, the State Action Plan has been circulated to
all the States/UTs for ensuring effective implementation of the Act.
Major causes of child employment that can be understood keeping in mind the Indian
In developing countries it is impossible to control child labour as children have been
considered as helping hand to feed their families, to support their families and to feed
themselves. Due to poverty, illiteracy and unemployment parents are unable to bear the
burden of feeding their children and to run their families. So, poor parents send their children
for work in inhuman conditions at lower wages.
The poor economic conditions of people in india force them to borrow money. The Illiterate
populations go to money lenders and sometimes mortgage their belongings in turn of the debt
taken by them. But, due to insufficiency of income, debtors find it very difficult to pay back
the debt and the interest. This vicious circle of poverty drags them towards working day and
night for the creditor and then the debtors drag their children too in assisting them so that the
debts could be paid off.
There are some industries such as the ‘bangle making’ industry, where delicate hands and
little fingers are needed to do very minute work with extreme excellence and precision. An
adult’s hands are usually not so delicate and small, so they require children to work for them
and do such a dangerous work with glass. This often resulted in major eye accidents
Constitutional Provisions for Child Upliftment:
Article 21 A: Right to Education
The State shall provide free and compulsory education to all children of the age of 6 to 14
years in such manner as the State, by law, may determine.
Article 24: Prohibition of employment of children in factories, etc.
No child below the age fourteen years shall be employed in work in any factory or mine or
engaged in any other hazardous employment.
Article 39: The State shall, in particular, direct its policy towards securing
(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.
Legislative Provisions Prohibiting and Regulating Employment of Children
As per the Child Labour (Prohibition & Regulation) Act, 1986 “child” means a person
who has not completed is 14th year of age.
The Act prohibits employment of children in 13 occupations and 57 processes
contained in Part A & B of the Schedule to the Act (Section 3).
Under the Act, a Technical Advisory Committee is constituted to advice for inclusion
of further occupations & processes in the Schedule.
The Act regulates the condition of employment's in all occupations and processes not
prohibited under the Act (Part III).
Any person who employs any child in contravention of the provisions of section 3 of
the Act is liable for punishment with imprisonment for a term which shall not be less
than three months but which may extend to one year or with fine which shall not be
less than Rs 10,000 but which may extend to Rs 20,000 or both. ((Section 14).
The Central and the State Governments enforce the provisions of the Act in their