New Delhi: A Delhi court rules that the “mere fact that a minor girl is staying with a family does not imply that she has been hired as a domestic servant”, while giving relief to a man who had given shelter to a girl child abandoned by her parents.
"India is a country which is full of destitute minor children, who have either nobody to look after or their guardians are not in a position to maintain them. So, if a noble family picks up any such child, maintains and educates him/her as their own child, such a noble act deserves to be lauded and encouraged," Additional Sessions Judge Virender Bhat said.
Any person, who is giving shelter to such children, cannot be held guilty of forcing the minor for the offence of child labour, he further noted.
The court`s observation came while setting aside an order by a magistrate who had directed "in totally cavalier fashion" the authorities concerned to charge Nayan Ahmed under Child Labour Act, Juvenile Justice Act and other provisions of the IPC.
A complaint was filed by the president, Scientific Welfare Society, Indian Agriculture Research Institute, that a girl child was working as Ahmed`s domestic help for the last one-and-half years.
Bhat took note of the fact that the inspection team nowhere mentioned in its report the kind of domestic work the girl was found doing.
Also, while Ahmed`s neighbour told the court about having seen the girl giving domestic waste to the garbage collector, he nowhere mentioned having seen her washing Ahmed`s car, as mentioned in the complaint to the Labour Department.
While in custody of the Child Welfare Committee for about six days, the minor had told them she was staying with Ahmeds as her grandmother had sent her there due to poverty and they had offered to rear her.
She had said that her father had abandoned her in childhood and her mother is of unsound mind and is not traceable, therefore, her grandmother, who is old, could not look after her.
In her statement, her grandmother Tara Bi reiterated that she had sent the grand daughter to the house of Ahmed with the instructions to give her proper education and also to arrange for her marriage.
"It is apparent that the girl was being brought up by the Ahmeds as a child of their own and she was not hired for any money at all.”
"The circumstances, in which the minor girl is residing in that family and the care and concern shown by that family towards that minor girl have to be considered before arriving at any such conclusion," the judge said.