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Fight against Child Labour

The Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act, 1986 defines a child as a person who has not completed fourteen years of age. The Factories Act, 1948 and Plantation Labour Act 1951 states that a child is one that has not completed fifteen years of age and an adolescent is one who has completed fifteen years of age but has not completed eighteen years of age. According to the Factories Act adolescents are allowed to work in factories as long as they are deemed medically fit but may not for more than four and half hours a day. The Motor Transport Workers Act 1961, and The Beedi and Cigar Workers (Conditions of Employment) Act 1966, both define a child as a person who has not completed fourteen years of age.

The Merchant Shipping Act 1958 and Apprentices Act 1961 don't define a child, but in provisions of the act state that a child below fourteen is not permitted to work in occupations of the act. The Mines Act, 1952 is the only labour related act that defines adult as person who has completed eighteen years of age (hence a child is a person who has not completed eighteen years of age).

The Prohibition of Child Marriage Act, 2006 states that a male has not reached majority until he is twenty-one years of age and a female has not reached majority until she is eighteen years of age. The Indian Majority Act, 1875 was enacted to create a blanket definition of a minor for such acts as the Guardians and Wards Act of 1890. Under the Indian Majority Act, 1875 a person has not attainted majority until he or she is of eighteen years of age. This definition of a minor also stands for both the Hindu Minority and Guardianship Act, 1956 and the Hindu Adoption and Maintenance Act, 1956. Muslim, Christian and Zoroastrian personal law also upholds eighteen as the age of majority. The first Juvenile Justice Act, 1986 defined a boy child as below sixteen years of age and a girl child as below eighteen years of age. The Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2000 has changed the definition of child to any person who has not completed eighteen years of age.

Because of its umbrella clauses and because it is the latest law to be enacted regarding child rights and protection, many are of the opinion that the definition of child found in the Juvenile Justice Act, 2000 should be considered the legal definition for a child in all matters.