On Tuesday, the Bombay High Court pulled up the Maharashtra government for its “failure” to curb child labour, and said it would hereafter hold senior officials of departments concerned accountable for implementation of law.
A bench of Justices SC Dharamadhikari and Bharati Dangre directed the government to submit a list of senior officials of the concerned departments.
These officials, it said, will henceforth be directly accountable to the high court with regard to their efforts to implement the law against child labour as well as enforcement of Constitutional provisions on child rights.
The bench, hearing a matter after taking cognizance of news reports on child labour, is likely to pass a detailed order on February 8.
It noted that despite constitutional provisions mandating that no children below the age of 14 be employed under hazardous conditions, and the Right to Education Act providing for free and compulsory education to all children below the age of 14, the state government had done little to implement those.
“What have you done since 2008? Also, did your officers follow up on the condition of the children who were rescued, or did you just hand them over to their guardians and washed your hands off?” the bench asked.
“Unless we hold your senior officers accountable, nothing will change. The state can’t just do lip service. It must begin to care about human existence and implement the constitutional provisions on one’s right to life, health, and education,” the bench said.