14:38 GMT +315 October 2019
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    Indian child laborers carry sacks of vegetable leftovers collected from a wholesale market to be sold in their shantytown, on the World Day against Child Labor, on the outskirts of Jammu, India (File)

    India Gets Tough on Child Labor, Mandating Prison for Potential Employers

    © AP Photo / Channi Anand
    Asia & Pacific
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    India's Parliament has passed a Child Labor (Prohibition and Regulation) Amendment Bill which makes the employment of children under age 14 a punishable offense carrying a minimum prison term of up to two years, except in the case of parents who put their children to work.

    India has tightened its child labor law in light of the increasing number of young children who have joined the labor force. Now employing a child below 14 years of age in any occupation or process, except in cases where the child is helping his family, will now warrant imprisonment for up to two years.

    The Child Labor (Prohibition and Regulation) Amendment Bill which was passed by India's Lower House of Parliament on Tuesday defines children between 14-18 years as adolescents and instructs that they should not be employed in any hazardous occupations or processes. This bill was passed by the Upper House of Parliament on July 19.

    The Child Labor (Prohibition and Regulation) Amendment Bill specifies harsher sentences for violators. The penalty for employing a child has been increased to imprisonment between six months and two years, earlier it was 3 months to one year or a fine of 20,000 Indian rupees ($298) to Rs 50,000.  Still earlier, the fine was Rs 10,000-20,000. Repeat offenders will be incarcerated for 1-3 years.

    According to provisions of the bill, no child should be employed in any occupation or process except where he or she helps his family after school hours or helps his family in the fields, home based work, forest gathering or attends technical institutions during vacations for the purpose of learning.

    Labor and Employment Minister Bandaru Dattatreya hailed the bill as a historic, landmark move as it will act as a deterrent and violation will be a recognized offence.

    However, opposition parties have criticized the bill. Congress Party MP and former minister Mallikarjun Kharge told Sputnik, “This bill will benefit industry. The definition of 'family' in the bill is vague and ambiguous and it will be misused by the employers.”

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