More than 200 child labourers rescued in Delhi: NGO tells Delhi High Court

The Delhi High Court on Monday was apprised that the Delhi government has rescued a large number of child labourers in the national capital in light of the court’s order passed in January in this regard.

The Division Bench headed by Chief Justice Satish Chandra Sharma was dealing with a plea filed by an NGO highlighting the plight of children working in factories that are illegally housed in extremely small units stuffed with inflammable materials.

The instant petition was filed by Advocate Prabhsahay Kaur on behalf of NGO Bachpan Bachao Andolan pursuant to a massive fire that occurred in December 2019 at a factory in Delhi’s Anaj Mandi area in Sadar Bazar, which resulted in the death of 43 persons, including 12 children between the age group of 12 to 18 years.

The petition sought for an inquiry into the illegal factories at Anaj Mandi, Sadar Bazar, so that persons who are running these factories can be booked under the concerned legislations. It further sought the protection and rehabilitation of children working in these units. Pointing out that there are around 183 locations where child labourers are working, the plea also sought action on the pending complaints relating to rescue of children illegally labouring at these locations.

During the course of hearing, Advocate Kaur informed the court that pursuant to court’s January 11 order directing for forming a Committee in each district to inspect the premises where units employing child labour are being run, more than 200 children have been rescued.

On the other hand, Advocate Satyakam, representing the Delhi government, informed the court that the process of conducting raids is still going on and sought four weeks’ time to file a further status report in this regard.

The matter will next be heard on May 4, 2023.

Earlier, expressing displeasure at the lackadaisical approach and extreme insensitivity shown by the government in the matter, the Court noted: “Children who ought to have been studying in schools are forced to work in these places which are unhygienic, inhabitable and accidents which are waiting to happen For their greed for money and profit, unscrupulous factory owners employ children as they have to be paid less than minimum wages and, driven out of extreme poverty, these children are forced to work at these places instead of seeking education in order to earn bread for their families. The laudable object of Article 21A of the Constitution of India has been completely thrown to the winds.”

“What is more saddening is that these units are working right under the nose of the Government which includes police officers who are aware of these factories being run, and yet no steps are being taken by the State to curb this menace,” added the bench in its January 11 order.