Monday, November 17, 2014

Act now for child protection

Advice - Rights and Laws, Nov '14
By Kaushik Gupta

Reader queries

My neighbours have employed a very young Nepali girl as a maid. She seems sad all the time and cries a lot. I suspect something wrong. Could it be that she has been forced or tricked into this job? If so, what can one do about it legally?
AB, West Bengal

Dear AB

Exploitation of children by using them as domestic help is a menace in our country. It thrives, on one hand, because of the careless attitude of the urban population and on the other, because of the severe poverty faced by particular sections of society. At times the law, unfortunately, fails to reach out to the needy. However, concerned and vigilant citizens like you can help the country become a better place for the future generations to come.  

You may not be aware of the specific age of the 'very young' girl in question here. However, if you feel she is under the age of 14 years then her employment as a domestic help is illegal under Clause 14 of Part A of the schedule of the Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act 1986 (as amended till date).

You, yourself can lodge a complaint before the concerned magistrate or send the information to the local police station and the police officer in-charge can lodge the complaint before the court. You can also call 1098 (Childline toll free number) and inform them about the situation by sharing the specifications of the child, her location and other details. 

Kaushik Gupta is a lawyer by profession, a photographer by passion, and happy to answer your queries on legal matters around gender and sexuality. Write in your queries to, and they will be answered with due respect to confidentiality.


  1. What are the situations in which the police must approach a court before taking action? In which situations can they act directly on the basis of an FIR?

  2. Dear Anonymnous:

    There are two kinds of cases, cognizable and non cognizable. In the former the police can act without permission of the court. In the latter it has to seek permission from the court to investigate. Again, there are police cases where you lodge a complaint with the police which gets converted into FIR. And the second is the complaint case where either you or the police or anyone has to approach the court and lodge a complaint and the court takes cognizance of the offence and issues summons upon the accused person. The offence under the Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act 1986 is of the second category. Hence the court has to be approached under Section 16 of the said act.