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  • Janani A.

M C MEHTA V. STATE OF TAMIL NADU 1986

Author: Janani A.

Dr Ambedkar Law University, Tamil Nadu


Introduction

Preface Child labour is a horrible and largely current reality in our country. Our constitution makers had stationed Article 24 (Prohibition of employment of children in manufactories, etc. as a means to check this imminence. still, child labour is a reality.

Background

On 10th December 1996, the Supreme Court conceded the problem of Child labour in the country and handed certain guidelines and procedures to ameliorate the situation. The bench was presided over by Justice Kuldip Singh, Justice B.L. Hansaria, and Justice S.B. Majmudar.

Facts

Sivakasi, a city in the state of Tamil Nadu was one of the worst-hit municipalities in terms of child labour in the country. A thoughtful counsel, M.C. Mehta concerned by the unsupportable state of child labour in the city filed a solicitation under Article 32 of the Indian Constitution. He contended that the employment of children in dangerous match stick manufactories was innocently preposterous and naturally invalid. The replier government didn't oppose the claims and submitted ideas to deplete the problem. thus, the court issued certain directions suggesting means to ameliorate the lives of the affected children. still, posterior to this order an accident occurred in one of Sivakasi’s fireworks manufactories. The court took suo moto cognizance of this incident.

Issues

The main issue before the court was to give effective volition means to check the employment of children in dangerous labour. The court also dealt with issues related to the education, growth and development of children.

Related provisions

Indian Constitution

  • Article 24- Right against exploitation- No child below the age of fourteen or 14 shall be employed to work in any plant or mine or engaged in any other dangerous employment.

  • Article 39(f)– Growth and development of children- that children are given openings and installations to develop healthily and conditions of freedom and equality and that nonage and youth are defended against exploitation and moral and material abandonment.

  • Article41-Right to Work- Right to work, to education and public backing in certain cases. The State shall, within the limits of its profitable capacity and development, make effective provision for securing the right to work, to education and public backing in cases of severance, old age, sickness and disablement, and in other cases of undeserved want.

  • Article45- Free and mandatory education of children in India- The State shall endeavour to give, within a period of ten times from the inception of this Constitution, free and mandatory education for all children until they complete the age of fourteen times.

  • Article 47- Duty of the State to raise the position of nutrition and the standard of living and to ameliorate public health. The State shall regard the caregiving of the position of nutrition and the standard of living of its people and the enhancement of public health as among its primary duties and, in particular, the State shall endeavour to bring about prohibition of the consumption except for medicinal purposes of intoxicating drinks and of medicines which are pernicious to health.

Manufactories Act, 1948

Section 67- Prohibition of employment of youthful children- No child who has not completed his fourteenth time shall be needed or allowed to work in any plant.

Plantation Labour Act, 1951

Section 24- No child who has not completed his twelfth time shall be needed or allowed to work in any colony.

Mines Act, 1952

  • Section 45(1) – No child shall be employed in any mine, nor shall any child be allowed

  • Section 45(2) – After a similar date as the Central Government may, by announcement

The Motor Transport Workers Act, 1961

  • Section 14- Hours of work for adolescents employed as motor transport workers. — No adolescent shall be employed or needed to work as a motor transport worker in any motor transport undertaking — for further than six hours a day including rest intervals of half an- hour; between the hours of 10 P.M. and 6A.M

Affiliated Cases

Unni Krishnan case- Article 45 ( mandatory education for all children until they complete the age of 14 times) has the status of an abecedarian right.

Analysis of the Judgement

The court held that Child labour wasn't an issue in Sivakasi alone. thus, it should be treated as a public issue. It observed that the rights of children were defended under Articles 24, 39(e) and 9(f), 41, and 47 of the Indian Constitution. These papers substantially handed for the growth and development of a child by banning child labour, furnishing free and mandatory education to children, furnishing a staid standard of living to the children, etc. Domestic laws similar to the Apprentices Act, Beedi and Cigar Workers Conditions of Employment Act, and Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act also defended similar rights. It was also noted that India ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child, which not only protects the child’s civil and political rights but also extends protection to the child’s profitable, social, artistic and philanthropic rights. The court took into cognizance the colourful causes of the perpetual actuality of Child labour in India and cited colourful papers similar to Child Labour in India by Nazir Ahmad Shah, Causes of the Exploitation of Child Labour in India by Dr Amar Singh and Raghuvinder Singh. The findings of Indian Child Labour by. J.C. Kulshreshtha were also refocused, which revealed the main causes of failure as:

  1. Poverty

  2. Low stipend for the grown-up

  3. Severance

  4. Absence of schemes for family allowance

  5. Migration to civic areas

  6. Large families

  7. Children being cheaply available

  8. Virtuality of vittles for mandatory education

  9. Ignorance and ignorance of parents

  10. Traditional stations

The court, still, concluded that the main cause was the deteriorating fiscal conditions of the family which impelled the child to work and earn. It was held that the growth and development of the child were necessary to fulfil the intention of the legislation. thus, the confirmation of a Child Labour Rehabilitation cum Welfare Fund was ordered. Any person employing a child in dangerous labour would have to pay a sum of Rs. 20,000, which shall be deposited in The Fund. The quantum deposited shall be used for the growth and development of the child.

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