HC issues Directions on back wages and Financial Assistance to rescued Child Labourers

The Delhi High Court has issued a slew of directions to the city government for providing immediate financial assistance to rescued child labourers and for recovery of back wages due to them.

The high court said when a rescued child is placed in a childcare or juvenile home under the Delhi government, a savings bank account of the minor shall be opened jointly with the superintendent or in-charge of the child care institution for transfer of financial assistance.

If the child’s parents or guardian are located in future, the amount of financial assistance shall be transferred to them by the government one week after verification, a bench of Acting Chief Justice Manmohan and Justice Manmeet PS Arora said.

The court said in case a rescued child is repatriated to their native place, the information shall be shared by the Child Welfare Committee (CWC) with the Delhi government’s labour department so that his bank account information could be ascertained and necessary financial assistance and recovered back wages be transferred.

When the child attains majority, an application shall be submitted to the bank and a permission be granted for operating his savings account as a sole individual, it said.

“NGOs and vigilance committees shall extend all coordination and assistance in providing information with respect to bank account details and other relevant documents and records of rescued children or that of their parents/ guardians,” the bench said.

On the issue of recovery of back wages, the bench said the labour department shall issue recovery notices to employers within two working days of the rescue of the child.

The inspector under the Minimum Wages Act or the Payment of Wages Act shall grant the accused employer/owner two weeks’ time to deposit back wages.

In those cases, where these amounts are not deposited within such a time-frame, the inspector thereafter will request the CWC to recover the same as fine, the court said.

“It is directed in case back wages are not deposited by the accused employer/ owner within the stipulated period of two weeks, recovery certificates shall be issued by the concerned authority and the back wages shall be recovered as arrears of land revenue by the concerned SDM,” it said.

The court said in cases where back wages for a particular bonded child labourer are recovered, it shall be disbursed to the minor or his or her parents or legal guardians in identical procedures as outlined for the grant of financial assistance.

Disbursal shall be made within one week from such a recovery, it added.

“The concerned authority shall ensure that the actual recovery from the accused employer/ owner is completed within three months from the date of issue of the recovery certificate. The concerned departments of Delhi government shall ensure strict time bound compliance of the directions,” the bench said.

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The court passed the directions while dealing with two petitions filed by the fathers of two bonded child labourers seeking statutory financial assistance for their children and several other similarly situated minors.

One of the petitions stated that there are around 115 rescued children who are yet to receive their back wages, and sought directions for a time bound recovery.

The other plea sought directions for payment of immediate financial rehabilitative assistance to rescued child labourers.

During the pendency of the matter, the authorities came up with joint suggestions, providing a mechanism for immediate financial assistance and expeditious recovery of back wages and, after examining them, the high court approved the same and issued the directions.

The court also asked the Delhi government to put these directions on its website along with standard operating procedure approved in an earlier matter.

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