Patna, July 27: Patna High Court today sought a reply from the state government on a petition seeking elimination of child labour and trafficking of minors for prostitution.
A bench comprising Chief Justice Rekha M. Doshit and Justice Jyoti Saran directed the state government to file its reply within three weeks, asking what steps it had taken to stop child trafficking for forced labour and prostitution from the state.
The petitioner, Bachpan Bachao Andolan (BBA), an NGO working in the field of protection of human rights and child labour, submitted that the state government had chalked out a plan of action on June 16, 2009, to stop the abuse of child labour. However, the plan was never implemented despite getting cabinet approval.
Kumar said the state’s plan of action spoke of a “child labour free state” and includes a scheme to rescue, release and rehabilitate the victims.
But he contended that the government has not enumerated a policy or scheme for the rescue and rehabilitation of minor girls who have been trafficked for sexual exploitation.
Stating that law enforcement and implementing agencies in the state have failed to curb the menace, BBA state convener Mukhtarul Haque said more than 78,000 child and bonded labourers have so far been rescued across the country. As many as 1,116 children were rescued in the last two years with the help of Delhi police, of whom 738 were from Bihar.
Similarly, in April this year, the Delhi administration rescued 72 children who were being exploited and compelled to work as bonded labourers. Most of the children hailed from Bihar again, the petitioner said.
The petition further stated that the right to elementary education was guaranteed to every child in the country but instead, they were being trafficked and exploited.
The NGO has also prayed to the court that it direct the government to take punitive action against those who harbour child trafficking.
To buttress its point, the NGO cited Census 2001, according to which Bihar accounted for 8.9 per cent of child labourers in India in the age group of 5-14 years, numbering 5.4 lakh as main workers (who work for six months or more in a year) in the same age group.
Around 5.8 lakh worked as marginal workers (who work for less than six months in a year).
Counsel for state A. Amanullah submitted before the court that the state government was ready to do all things possible raised in the PIL.