The court said the government can go beyond recording the number of minors rescued during raids at various places. It said the state should study the population of minors in the state, birth/death figures and number of kids dropping out of schools to keep a tab on illegal use of children.
A division bench of Justice N H Patil and Justice Anuja Prabhudessai said, "Raids conducted by the authorities are good but they don't reflect the real picture of child gone missing or involved in child labour. If the government carries out a detailed study then a better analysis is possible."
The court has now directed the prosecution to consider its suggestion by April 28 and reply whether it is feasible. The bench also said, "It is necessary of a welfare state like Maharashtra. This study would not only throw answers to child trafficking but also to other serious crimes like kidnapping."
The court gave this suggestion while hearing a suo-moto (on its own) public interest litigation initiated on the basis of a letter addressed by Justice P S Patankar, who had sought proper implementation of provisions of the Child Labour Act.
The government informed the court that it had framed a comprehensive policy in April 2006 to deal with child labour. Under the plan, it had set up special task forces at every district headquarter, with a specific aim to keep track of rescued kids for two years so that they don't return to their old work place.
The task forces have so far rescued over 5,000 child labourers and 3,262 of them have been handed over to their parents. The government has sent 883 kids, who were brought from outside Maharashtra, to the concerned authorities in other states. The remaining are in state-run shelters for children.