Judicial activism for combating the problem of child labour in India: A critical analysis
Sudhakaran, Dr. Chitra Singh
The framers of the Indian Constitution were fully aware of the problem of child labour. They incorporated some specific provisions to prohibit child labour in Part III and IV of the Constitution dealing with the Fundamental Rights and Directive Principles of State Policy. Article 24 of the Constitution prohibits the employment of children below the age of 14 years in any factories or mines or in other hazardous employment. Article 45 states that the State shall endeavor to provide free and compulsory education until they complete the age of 6 years. Not only the Constitutional provision had looked out the problem of child labour, but different Acts had been enacted to minimize the exploitation of child labour these laws have been amended, repealed and revised from time to time. By these amendments many safeguards are provided to protect children, like minimum age, working hours, health and medical examination, wage and leave, place of environment and physical conditions etc. were prescribed. But it was found that the existing legal framework for the regulation of child labour is dispersed and patchy. Even then it remains anomaly on the said above issues. To meet this gap a significant legislative attempt to prohibit and regulate child labour was made in 1986. The Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act, 1986 was enacted by the Parliament with an objective to prohibit the engagement of children in certain employment and to regulate the working conditions of work of children in certain other employment. The legislature by enacting the laws to control the problem of child labour had performed its role but the Judiciary had played an important role in this area. In addition to the legislations, the Supreme Court had shown its concern for child labour by bringing occupations or process under the Court’s order by the direct applications of constitutional provisions. Some of the leading cases wherein the Apex court had enlarged the scope of their powers and had taken the issue of child labour and directed the states to implement the guidelines framed by the Apex Court for the welfare of the child labour.