12-year-old forced to work as domestic help: Court directs magistrate to frame notice against two accused

A sessions judge here has set aside the order of a magisterial court and directed it to frame notice and proceed further against two people under provisions of the Child and Adolescent Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act for allegedly keeping a 12-year-old girl as domestic help.

Additional Sessions Judge Sunil Gupta was hearing a revision petition by the Delhi government against the order of a metropolitan magistrate in January 2020 discharging the two accused.

According to the prosecution, after a 12-year-old girl, forced to work as domestic help in South Delhi, was rescued on November 23, 2013, an FIR was registered against accused Mukta Rani and Jai Ram Singh.

The court noted the magisterial court had discharged both n the ground that working as a domestic help in a house in a non-hazardous environment was not covered under the Child Labour Act.

This was, however, “not tenable in law” as the act and its schedule were amended in 2016 and, according to the existing law, no child can be employed as a “domestic worker or domestic servant,” the court said.

Noting the statements of the girl, the court said she was working as a domestic servant. It said the magistrate was wrong in observing that working as a domestic help was not covered under the act.

“This court is of the view that the material on record is sufficient for framing a notice against the respondents for the offence under the Child and Adolescent Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act,1986 and that the order of the magistrate is bad in law to that extent. Said order is accordingly hereby set aside,” the court said in a judgment pronounced on Saturday.

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It directed the respondents to appear before the magistrate on July 10. The magistrate has to frame notice against and proceed further according to law.

While pronouncing the judgment, the court noted the prosecution was not pressing the revision petition against the respondents under the Juvenile Justice (JJ) Act.

It also said offences under IPC sections 506 (criminal intimidation) and 195 A (threatening any person to give false evidence) were not prima facie made out against the two accused.

The Malviya Nagar police station had filed a charge sheet against the accused persons under provisions of the IPC, JJ Act and Child Labour Act.

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