The Delhi High Court has directed the Chief Secretary of Delhi, the Deputy Commissioner of Police of each District and the Municipal Corporation of Delhi to form a Committee in each district to inspect the premises where units employing child labourers are run.

The Court ordered that the children who are found to be working in these units should be rescued.

The bench of Chief Justice Satish Chandra Sharma and Justice Subramonium Prasad was dealing with the petition filed by NGO Bachpan Bachao Andolan highlighting the plight of children working in factories.

In December 2019, a massive fire ripped through a building in Anaj Mandi, Sadar Bazar, which resulted in the death of 43 persons, including 12 children between the age group of 12 to 18 years.

The plea sought directions to the State to conduct an inquiry into the illegal factories at Anaz Mandi, Sadar Bazar.

The Petitioner stated that these factories are functioning right under the nose of the State authorities who have turned a blind eye to these units which are no less than death traps waiting for their victims.

The Petitioner also prayed for action on the pending complaints relating to rescue of children illegally labouring at 183 locations as mentioned in the petition.

Advocates Prabhsahay Kaur, Rachna Tyagi and Bindita Chaturvedi appeared for the petitioner whereas ASC Satyakam appeared for GNCTD.

The Court observed that Children who ought to have been studying in schools are forced to work in these places which are unhygienic, inhabitable and prone to accidents.

The Court further added, “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 Court observed that what is more saddening is that these units are working right under the nose of the Government.

The Court noted that periodic judgments have been passed by the Court and by the Apex Court, but these orders have been ignored by the State Authorities.

The Court observed that an order has been issued by the Delhi Government wherein the Government has enhanced the limit of ex-gratia relief for victims of fire and other accidents at the rate of Rs.10 lakhs for each victim in case of death of a major and Rs.5 lakhs if the victim is a minor.

Thus the Court directed the Government to immediately release Rs.5 lakhs for each of the victims who have lost their life as ex-gratia interim payment.

The Court also added that any lapse on the part of the Government in not paying the compensation would be viewed very seriously by the Court.

The Court further directed the Government to search the locations identified by the NGO where children are working and conduct an investigation and file a Status Report on the action taken by them before the next date of hearing.

Cause Title- Bachpan Bachao Andolan v. GNCTD & Ors.

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