A division bench of the Gauhati High Court on Monday asked the Centre to file a reply on a PIL that has challenged the validity of the Child Labour Act, 1986 and JJ Act in relation to the difference in the definition of child by age.
The notice was issued by Chief Justice T Vaiphei and Justice PK Saikia who asked the government to file its reply by December 11, when the high court would hold the next hearing. The PIL was filed by the Assam State Commission for Protection of Child Rights and child rights activist MM Sengar.
The petitioners had pleaded that the while the UN Convention on Rights of the Child had defined a person under 18 years as child, the Child Labour ( Prohibition and Regulation) Act,1986 still continues to define a child as “a person who has not completed 14 years of age.” The petitioners also pointed out that India, being a signatory to the UNCRC, had also committed to do away with the age disparity in all its laws on the basis of the CRC.
The petitioners also pleaded with the court to uphold the provisions of the Constitution for protection of children by eliminating unlawful child labour practices across the country and to prevent commercial and other exploitation of children from hazardous and other work which had become a hindrance in their comprehensive development and leads to deprivation of primary, secondary and higher education.