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The Kailash Satyarthi Children’s Foundation (KSCF) has conducted a study to assess government’s efforts towards achieving sustainable development Goal 8.7 of eliminating child labour by 2025 in the country.

This study is titled, ‘Extent of child labour and prosecution of cases under Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Amendment Act, 2016, in India’.

The study is a secondary analysis of data from three successive ‘Crime in India’ reports published by the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) from 2016 to 2018 and the Census of India 2011.

The analysis reveals that a total of 204 FIRs (384 victims) in 2016; 462 FIRs (685 victims) in 2017 and 464 FIRs (810 victims) in 2018, were registered under the Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act (CPLRA) in the country over the last three years. The study dismisses the dramatic increase in child labour rescues between 2016 and 2018 and categorises it as ‘grossly inadequate’.

This is so because the percentage of total number of victims rescued during 2016-18 is only a meagre 0.02% of the total number of child labourers in the country. Despite the Central Government’s commitment to end child labour by 2025, the effort as well as will of the government to rescue child labourers is evidently not reflected in the number of FIRs that are registered every year in the country, especially when the magnitude of instances of child labour is so large (10 million as per Census of India 2011), State-Wise Extent and Prosecution Analysis.

The state-wise analysis reveals that even though Uttar Pradesh has the highest population of child labourers in the country (21 per cent), only 15 FIRs have been registered under CLPRA in the last three years, rescuing only 20 child labourers.

Similarly, in Bihar, which has the second largest child labour population, not even a single FIR under CLPRA was registered in 2016 and 2017, and only 14 FIRs were registered in the year 2018.

These figures not only signify a major gap with regards to registration of cases under CLPRA by the law enforcement agencies, but also emphasizes upon the need to create awareness among the general population of Bihar in order to substantially scale-up reporting of child labour in the state.

The situation in Maharashtra, being one of the major destinations for migration/trafficking, which has the fourth largest child labour population in the country (700,000 child labourers), is also appalling. Only a total of 313 FIRS have been lodged under CLPRA in the last three years in the state.

States like Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh, which are the prime source areas from where child labourers are trafficked to large cities, are performing equally badly.

While 33 FIRs were registered and 33 children were rescued in Jharkhand between 2016 and 2018, the number of FIRs and rescues for the same period in Chhattisgarh was one each.

The same pattern is observed in Madhya Pradesh (29 FIRs and 32 children rescued) and West Bengal (11 FIRs and 11 children rescued) between 2016 and 2018.

As per the study, in more than 10 states which constitute almost 14 per cent of the total child labour population in the country, not even a single child was rescued from situations of forced labour.

These states are Mizoram, Sikkim, Tripura, Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur, Nagaland, Odisha, Meghalaya, Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh and Andhra Pradesh.

Pendency and Conviction

An analysis of prosecution of cases filed under CLPRA has brought out a huge gap between the number of prosecutions lodged in a year and the number of cases whose trials were completed.

As a result, pendency of under trial cases under the CLPRA has been going up from year to year.

For pendency to remain constant, it is necessary that the number of cases under CLPRA in which chargesheet is filed is equal to trials completed.

Further if pendency is to be brought down, the annual disposal of cases filed under CLPRA must exceed the annual institution of new cases under in the court.

This can happen if and only if exclusive dedicated court to try cases under the CLPRA are created.

As far as conviction under the CLPRA cases is concerned, 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.

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