M.C. Mehta v. State of Tamil Nadu
DATE OF JUDGMENT: 10/12/1996
COURT: Supreme Court of India
JUDGES: Kuldip Singh, B.L. Hansaria, S.B. Majmudar
REFERENCE:  RD-SC 1576
Petitioner: M.C. Mehta
Respondent: State of Tamil Nadu
SUBJECT: The judgment revolves around abolition of Child labour in the Country.
FACTS: Due to massive number to child labourers in Sivakasi firework industries, the petitioner filed a PIL under Article 32 of the Constitution.
The Indian Constitution:
- Article 32: Remedies for enforcement of rights conferred by Part III
- The right to move the Supreme Court by appropriate proceedings for the enforcement of the rights conferred by this Part is guaranteed
- The Supreme Court shall have power to issue directions or orders or writs, including writs in the nature of habeas corpus, mandamus, prohibition, quo warranto and certiorari, whichever may be appropriate, for the enforcement of any of the rights conferred by Part III
- Article 24: No child below the age of fourteen years shall be employed to work in any factory or mine or engaged in any other hazardous employment.
1. Whether there is a need to consider settled law and guidelines with regard to child labour in India?
The petitioner filed a writ of mandamus before the hon’ble SC to direct the State government of TN to immediately take measures to relieve the child labourers involved in the firework industries. The petitioner has filed the petition as the respondents in the present case failed to comply with the directions given by this Court in a suo moto petition to eradicate child labour. He also submitted the reports of a Committee which was formed under the directions of the SC to probe into the matter of child labour. Few of the notable recommendations of the Committee include:
- State of Tamil Nadu should be directed to ensure that children are not employed in fireworks factories
- Employers should not be permitted to take work from the children for more than six hours a day.
- Facilities for recreation, socialisation and education should be provided either in the factory or close to the factory.
- Piece-rate wages should be abolished, and payment should be made on monthly basis.
Wages should be equal to the work done by the children.
- Compulsory insurance coverage for all labourers.
The petitioner has further submitted his contentions in the following grounds:
- Since India has accepted the Convention on Rights of Child disregarding social evils like child labour will hamper the development of the Country.
- Such exploitations violated the fundamental rights of children guaranteed under
Articles 21,14,19 and 24 of the Constitution.
- The State failed to implement various legislations enacted by the parliament in this regard such as Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act, 1986.
- Further the State has miserably failed to fulfil its duties under the Directive Principles of State Policy.
The Court upon hearing the pleadings gave the following guidelines:
- A survey was asked to be conducted in Sivakasi within six months
- The works in which the children were involved were asked to be ranked from most hazardous to less harmful.
- The State was asked to provide jobs to the parents of the children. If the State is unable to provide a job a sum of Rs.85,000 has to be paid to each child, provided the parents sent their child to educational institutions.
- The State was asked to make sure that all children went to schools to pursue education.
- The Executive head of the district was asked to monitor the efficient functioning of the above stated guidelines
- The Secretary to the Ministry of Labour, Government of India was asked to submit reports after one year to ensure due compliance of the guidelines.