A study by the Kailash Satyarthi Children’s Foundation (KSCF) on the action taken against child labour and rescues carried out has highlighted the urgent need to step up efforts to achieve the sustainable development goal of eliminating child labour in India by 2025.
The study titled ‘Extent of child labour and prosecution of cases under Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Amendment Act, 2016, in India’ analysed the FIRs filed for child labour from 2016 to 2018, with the data available in the National Crime Records Bureau and the Census of India, 2011.
The analysis has revealed that there were 204 FIRs (384 victims) in 2016, 462 FIRs (685 victims) in 2017, and 464 FIRs (810 victims) in 2018, registered under the Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act (CPLRA).
Calling the rescues and action “inadequate”, the study has shown that the total number of children rescued in the country in three years constituted only 0.02 per cent of the total child labour population, considering that there were more than 10 million child labourers in the country.
How states failed to eradicate child labour
In Uttar Pradesh, which accounts for 21 per cent of the labourers, only 15 FIRs have been filed in those three years, while 20 have been rescued.
Bihar, which has the second largest population of child labourers, did not register a single FIR in 2016 and 2017, while 14 FIRs were registered in 2018. The study therefore calls for the need to create awareness among the general population of Bihar in order to substantially scale up reporting of child labour in the state.
Among the destination states, Maharashtra, that accounts for 7 lakh child labourers, saw only 313 FIRs being filed in those three years. Major source states like Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh, from where children are reportedly trafficked, also have abysmally low numbers — 33 FIRs were registered and 33 children were rescued in Jharkhand between 2016 and 2018, while Chattisgarh had one FIR and one rescue in the same period.
According to the study, in more than 10 states that comprise 14 per cent of the total child labour population in the country, not even a single child was rescued from forced labour. These states include Mizoram, Sikkim, Tripura, Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur, Nagaland, Odisha, Meghalaya, Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, and Andhra Pradesh.
Conviction rates and pendency
A closer look at the cases filed under CLPRA also reveals a huge gap between new prosecution and completion of trials. As a result, pendency of under trial cases under the CLPRA has been going up year by year.
With respect to convictions, the situation was much worse in 2016 as compared to the rate of conviction in other crimes against children. In the year 2016, the conviction rate under CLPRA was 11 per cent, which was substantially lower than the conviction rate for all crimes against children in the country, which was more than 30 per cent.
However, the conviction rate in 2017 rose drastically to 70 per cent, but the year 2018 again saw a fall in the conviction rate where it dropped to 44 per cent.