The Supreme Court on Wednesday issued notices to the Centre, states and Union Territories on a Public Interest Litigation (PIL), seeking a complete ban on child labour. The PIL was filed by Shantha Sinha, Secretary, MV Foundation, Centre for Child Rights and Social Jurist. The apex court also said that the ban was necessary to include the children in the formal school system.
A bench of Justice KG Balakrishnan and Justice GP Mathur issued the notices, returnable within six weeks. In another PIL on the subject by environmentalist lawyer MC Mehta, it was contended that the compulsory schooling was up to 14 years of age as envisaged in Article 21 A of the Constitution.
In terms of Article 1, 2 of International Labour Organisation, minimum age convention, 1973 and Article 32 and 36 of the UN convention on the rights of the child, the minimum age for admission to employment was teemed to be 14 years and therefore all children up to the age of 14 years were further prohibited, the petitioner said.
The petitioner, submitted that the existing legislations on child labour which were not completely prohibiting it in all occupations and processes, were resulting in negation of all the fundamental and human rights guaranteed to the children under Article 14, 21-A, 23, 24, 39 (e) 39 (f), 41, 45 and 51-A (h), 61-A (j), 51-A (k) of the Constitution read with UN convention on the rights of the child and ILO minimum age convention, 1973.
The petitioner further submitted that the full time formal schooling alone ensured a descent and dignified life to the children for which they were entitled to under Article 21 of the Constitution.
Any attempt on part of the state to deny it, would violate the right in life as guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution, the petitioner added