NHRC ban child labour in totality, now acid test for administrators

Posted in May 2012

Thomas Lim

In one of the landmark judgment which came as breather for various NGOs championing for the cause of the Child’s Rights. National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) on May 30, 2012 directed Meghalaya government to “stop” employment of children in all mines and business establishments, a detailed survey providing a comprehensive rehabilitation program for the victims was also sought.
Chairman of the Commission, Justice K G Balakrishnan said: We empathetically have told the government to stop child labours in mining areas and all areas concerned in which children are purportedly employed as direct labourers or as bonded labours.
The Commission had taken cognizance of the issue after it was reported that more than 70,000 child labourers were present in the coal belts of Jaintia Hills district.
Earlier while rejecting the claims by the NGOs, state government said the children are playing within the vicinity of the coal belts was mistaken as child labourers. If so there could be just around 250 odd child labour in the state justified the government authority.
The point to ponder here is, the judgment is passed, and executing authorities will have to act immediately. It is worth witnessing how the authorities rescue the unfortunate children in the absent of rehabilitation program for the victims. The action will also face stiff opposition, as most of the coal mines are owned by the business tycoon with both money power and political backing.
The “lesser child of God” employed mainly in coal belt is in a fixed situation, they are no more permitted to work, at the same time, most of the victims do not know any other profession nor could they afford to attain normal school. The state government must have an expedite formulated programme of rehabilitation or the child will be kept in hunger by their respective parent as “unemployed member” of the family, yes accept it that all such children have already lost their childhood and facing a very bleak future if the government do not implement the program soon.
In the past, few other human interest judgments passed under such manner are still being preserved in cold storage, namely- Banning begging in the state. No smoking in public places. No liquor shops approximate to Educational institution or Religious place. None of the mentioned cases could be accomplish. Is it because of the failure of the district administrations or the rigid attitude of the public who still feels it’s their constitutional rights in meeting their respective desire?
It is strange that NHRC failed to take suo moto cognizance on violation of individual rights of especially abled children, their demand for three percent reservation in government establishment still being a distance dreams, nor did the section of the societies being deprived of any facilities because of different communities got any relief in the said Camp sitting of NHRC in Shillong.
Justice Balakrishnan was expected to question the government inability to set up a forum for Human Rights protection and Legal Rights Protection Committee in Meghalaya for the victimized sections to redress their grievances.
The ray of hope is however the banning of child labour in the state, now it is an acid test for the administrations to implement the Order. The Committee must monitor the implementation, otherwise this will also turned into other orders directed to be implemented are still gathering dust. 

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