Is the Child Labour Corpus Fund utilised in the districts?
As per the Supreme Court’s directions in 1996 in the case of M.C. Mehta v. Government of Tamil Nadu, a Child Labour Corpus Fund was established in the name of Deputy Commissioners in every district for rescued child labourers. The basic criteria to release the funds from the corpus are that:
· the children should have been rescued from hazardous employment, and
· they should be of school-going age.
The funds are intended to be used for the education, welfare and follow-up of the rehabilitated children. As per the reply received from the Deputy Commissioner’s (DC) office in Mysore, the total fund in the account at present was Rs. 3.14 lakh and no money has been used for the children rescued from the workplaces in the last eight years. The reply further states that there have been no applications from children to release the amount.
The fine amount levied on each erring employer is accumulated in the corpus in addition to Rs. 5,000 towards each child’s case from the State government and the corpus funds are supposed to be invested in a high-yielding interest account.
The RTI applicant Mr. Baburaj has pointed that a total of 48 cases of child labour were filed by the Department of Labour in Mysore district between 2004 and 2014 and in 23 cases, employers were fined from Rs. 1,000 to Rs. 15,000.
The reply to the RTI application raises a question about the situation monitoring of the Corpus Fund for Child Labour as the situation in Mysore cannot be different from other districts of the country. No doubt, the International Day against Child Labour on June 12 is celebrated in most districts on a grand scale every year.