A bill seeking two-year jail term for child labour employers, and ban on employment of children below 14 in all occupations and of adolescents below 18 in hazardous occupations was introduced in Rajya Sabha on Tuesday.
Introducing the Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Amendment Bill, 2012, Labour Minister Mallikarjun Kharge said it is proposed to prohibit employment of children in all occupations and facilitate their enrolment in schools.
The bill, approved by the Union Cabinet in August, also seeks to prohibit employment of adolescents below 18 years in hazardous industries.
The original Act provides for prohibition of engagement of children in certain employments and for regulating the conditions of work of children in some other engagements.
The proposed amendment substitutes it with "no child shall be employed or permitted to work in any occupation".
The bill seeks to amend sub-section (1) of Section 14 of the Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act, 1986, to double the punishment from the existing up to one year imprisonment to two years and from a maximum fine of Rs 20,000 to Rs 50,000.
Under the existing Act, an offender can be imprisoned for a term, which shall not be less than three months but which may extend to year or with fine which shall not be less than Rs 10,000 but which may extend to Rs 20,000.
The amendment seeks to increase the minimum imprisonment to six months, which may extend up to two years. Similarly, the fine will be a minimum of Rs 20,000 and a maximum of Rs 50,000. The offender can be punished with both if he employs or permits any adolescent to work in a hazardous occupation.
The amended law also seeks to regulate the conditions of service of adolescents in the non-hazardous fields in line with International Labour Organisation conventions.