Govt wants to seal shops evading child labour fine

, TNN | Jan 23, 2012, 01.23AM IST

NEW DELHI: The Delhi government is mulling the option of sealing shops that fail to pay the penalty for employing minors. The fine of Rs 20,000 recovered from violators for every child labour is used to rehabilitate the rescued. 

According to records, 1,287 children have been rescued by the state since July 2009 under the Child Labour Act. However, the government has managed to recover the penalty amount in only 290 cases. 

The state labour department plans to make a submission before the Delhi high court later this month, seeking rights to seal premises of violators who evade paying penalty and also those caught employing five or more children. In cases where penalty payments are pending, the district task force set up to prevent child labour has sealed some premises invoking certain provisions of the Act. But to broaden the ambit of their sealing powers, the state plans to present this proposal before HC on ways to expedite the recovery of the rehabilitation amount. 

According to a labour department report, 1,287 children were rescued from different parts of Delhi between July 2009 and October 2011 under the Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act 1986. While 370 children were rescued in 2009, the figure was 508 in 2010 and 409 till October 2011. 

Total prosecution so far, the report states, has been 1,528 for the period 2009-2011. However, state authorities say employers continue to evade paying the fine of Rs 20,000 which is used to rehabilitate the child after he/she is rescued. The penalty amount has been collected in just 290 cases from 2009-2011. 

In 2009, money was recovered in 30 cases, while the fine was paid in only 94 cases in 2010. An amount of Rs 33,20,000 has been recovered for rehabilitation of 166 children out of the 409 rescued in 2011. 

In some cases, employers running small businesses, such as tea stalls, have relocated with bag and baggage to avoid paying the penalty. 

Sources say offenders refuse to cough up the rehabilitation amount on the grounds that the case is still in court and they are yet to be proved guilty. However, HC had earlier directed that payment of penalty would not have to await conviction under the provisions of the Act. The court said officials can start proceedings to recover the penalty amount "immediately after the child is rescued". 

In 2009, HC passed an order that modified existing provisions to facilitate better rehabilitation of child labourers.