Vigil Human Rights Diary - December 2011

NHRC lethargic over child labour issues

NEW DELHI: The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) seems to be highly lethargic in taking action over the implementation of the Bonded Labour System (Abolition) Act, 1976 and the child labour laws in the country. Apex court advocate Radhakanta Tripathy moved the NHRC highlighting the plight of over 14,000 children, some of them as young as five years old and some 14 years old, toiling hard in the lock industries of Aligarh. And these children were left there by their own parents for extra income to sustain their poor incomes.

After a notice was issued to the Deputy Labour Commissioner, he conducted a survey and admitted that indeed children were engaged in the lock industries.

On this, the petitioner requested the NHRC to depute its special reporter to conduct an independent survey. However, instead of directing the state government to take penal action against the errant officials and rehabilitate the children, NHRC said in its order that the state government of Uttar Pradesh is alive to this problem and within the existing legal framework it is not possible to take penal action against the parents and the owners of the industries. With these observations, NHRC closed the issue of child labour in Uttar Pradesh. Tripathy filed another petition in the apex human rights body over the issue wherein young children were asked to walk over broken glass pieces and also on burning coal as part of school function in Surat, Gujarat last year. On this also, NHRC issued notices to the top officials of the state. However, with an observation from the state’s own enquiry report, the NHRC didn’t find anything wrong in such a heinous act practiced by the school authorities. The indefatigable petitioner highlighted yet another child labour issue, this time in coal mines in the state of Meghalaya and the adjoining states.

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