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The documentary has brought up the serious issue of child labour in the unorganized and underground illegal industry of mica mining. India ranks 8th in the world in the production of mica as per the reports of 2021. The illegal mining of Mica in Indian states is an open secret since its ban

INTRODUCTION – The theme of the documentary

The documentary has brought up the serious issue of child labour in the unorganized and underground illegal industry of mica mining. India ranks 8th in the world in the production of mica as per the reports of 2021.[1] The illegal mining of Mica in Indian states is an open secret since its ban in 1980 after the Forest Convention Act. These mines have taken advantage of this and employed children for mining in such dangerous and poor conditions. This mica is a core ingredient used in makeup products to add sparkle and shimmer. But the darkest secret behind this shine is the condition of the workers who mine this mica. When mica is purchased through middlemen, both legal and illegal mica are combined and supplied to processing businesses, further exacerbating the problem.[2] The theme of the documentary revolves around this issue, it highlights the truth of this dangerous reality and also found out how the authorities are reckless about the issue even after being aware of the same. In the year 2021, the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) registered a complaint against the company ‘Fenty Beauty’ owned by Rihanna, alleged of using mica from the illegal mines of Jharkhand, in their makeup products.[3] This article aims to examine the regulatory mechanism for child labour in India and also analyze whether these are followed or not.

Legal provisions governing Child Labour

In India, child labour is prohibited and punished. The Constitution itself confers a fundamental right upon children against child labour (Articles 23[4] and 24[5]) and provides them with the Right to Education (Article 21[6]– for children below the age of 14yrs). Article 15 (3)[7] of the Constitution provides that the legislature can bring special laws in the favour of children and women. Resultantly several laws came into play but a well-dedicated law prohibiting child labour only came in the year 1986, before that we had Although there was various implicit legislation putting a prohibition on child labour a dedicated law abolishing child labour only came in the year 1986. Before this time, we had The children pledging of labour Act, of 1933[8], The employment of Children Act, of 1938[9], the Indian factories Act, of 1948[10], the Plantation labour Act, of 1951[11], The Mines Act, of 1952[12], the Merchant Shipping Act, of 1958,[13] The Bedi and Cigar Workers (Conditions and Employment) Act, 1966.[14] All these laws prohibited employing children in the factories.

It is only in 1986 when The Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act[15] came into existence an umbrella legislation prohibiting and punishing child labour explicitly was found. Section 3 Part-A[16] of the Act provides for the industries and establishments where employment of children is prohibited, mining is one of that sectors. Section 14[17] of the Act provides for imprisonment of not less than 3 months which may extend to one year and with a fine of not less than ten thousand rupees if anyone is found contravening the law. The survey done by NCPCR before COVID-19 revealed that over 5,000 children aged between 6-14 yrs have given up education and started working as labourers in the mica mines of Jharkhand and Bihar to earn a livelihood.[18] The Commission also recommended taking strict actions against this illegal mining and child labour. But sadly, this still goes on.

Analyzing the situation

These people who have to unwillingly work in the mines not only suffer in danger every day but are also exploited by heavy work in return for minimal wages. This mica which they mine is sold underground for Rs 3- 15 per kilo,[19] these workers get about Rs 10-20 a day,[20] which is not even half of the minimum wage they should get. These people suffer from serious health problems, allergies, blindness to dust, and painful death due to falling debris. A 2018 report by the NGO Children in Need Institute (CINI) revealed that about 45 children died in these mines between the years 2013-2018,[21] which is a concerning issue.

The documentary pointed out the recklessness of the government on this issue. Despite many organizations covering this news and highlighting the matter, the government still lacks behind in taking any concrete steps. After this issue came to light the struggle for the cosmetics industry to make their product free of the mica covered in the blood of child labour and illegal mining was seen, but the struggle is still on after more than a decade. Among these struggling companies, Lush prides itself on cleaning its supply chain and making it free of the mica brought from these mines.[22]

But is this the solution to the problem? The answer here is simply ‘No’. Abstaining from buying mica from these places is not the solution to the problems faced in this industry. The solution can only be provided by the government taking strong steps against these illegal mining and prohibiting child labour in these areas of Jharkhand and Bihar and providing them with better education, healthcare, sanitation, and better opportunities, which is their basic fundamental right and guaranteed to them under Article 21[23] of the Constitution of India.


Learning about the grave situations of children below 4 or 5 years in a part of India instills a feeling of helplessness and a sense of responsibility toward them. As a person studying law, one always feels the absence of justice and legal awareness in Indian society. If these people would have been aware of their rights and the Indian legal system would have been more flexible and accessible then this problem could have been solved way earlier. Government is duty-bound to provide for the needs of these people but that requires a very long procedure and takes a lot of time to reach the roots. As a responsible citizen, one must always extend a helping hand and work for the social benefit of these people. Pro bono club is a good initiative by law schools whose help should be extended to these innocent mica mine child labourers.


Child Labour is a harsh reality that everyone knows, but not everyone is ready to extend their support for help to eliminate this cruelty and save lives. The government and citizens must make sure these children are not thrown into the dark and their future is not destroyed before even they capable of being dreaming about their future. Various NGOs are working in this area, Kailash Satyarthi’s foundation is one of them, to ensure that these children get to live their lives and a strong step from the government is needed to put an end to it. Above all legal awareness is the dire need of the hour in Indian society, so that people know that their government owes some responsibility and duty towards them and they are not meant to live a worse life and grow in hasty conditions, they do not have to sleep hungry, that their government must make sure they get their basic needs fulfilled.

Author(s) Name: Shagun Shrivastava (Hidayatullah National Law University, Raipur)


[1] M. Garside, Mica production worldwide by country, 2021, Statista, Feb 14, 2023, 10:04 PM, >> accessed 22 February 2023

[2] Lisa Niven, Skincare Alphabet: M is for Mica, Vogue India, Feb 14, 2023, 10:24 PM, <,marketed%20as%20brightening%20or%20illuminating> accessed 22 February 2023

[3] Simrin Sirur, Child labour, mine deaths- Rihanna’s Fenty Beauty brings Jharkhand mica back under spotlight, The Print, Feb 12, 2023, 22:35 PM, <> accessed 22 February 2023

[4] India Const.,art 23

[5] India Const., art 24

[6] India Const., art 21

[7] India Const., art 15

[8] The Children (Pledging Of Labour) Act, 1933 Act No. 2 Of 19331

[9] The Employment of Children Act, 1938, Act No. 26 of 1938

[10] The Factories Act, 1948, Act No. 63 Of 1948

[11] The Plantation Labour Act, 1951, Act LXIX of 1951

[12] Mines Act, 1952, Act 35 of 1952

[13] The Merchant Shipping Act, 19581, Act No. 44 Of 1958

[14] The Beedi And Cigar Workers (Conditions Of Employment) Act, 1966, Act 32 Of 1966

[15] The Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation)  Act, 1986, Act 61 of 1986

[16] The Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation)  Act, 1986, S. 3, Act 61 of 1986

[17] The Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation)  Act, 1986, S. 14, Act 61 of 1986

[18]5,000 Children Abandon Studies to Work in Mica Mines of Jharkhand, Bihar, The Wire, Feb 15, 2023, 12:41 AM, <> accessed 22 February 2023

[19] “Praveen Jain and Simrin Sirur, A peek into Jharkhand’s mica mines where child labour & illegal mining are no secret, The Print, Feb 15, 2023, 12:59 AM, <> accessed 22 February 2023

[20] Nidhi Jamwal, The dark secret of Jharkhand’s shiny mineral mica, Gaon Connection, Feb 15, 2023, 1:03 PM, <,illegal%20mica%20mines%20are%20harsh> accessed 22 February 2023

[21] supra note at 3

[22] “Peter Bengsten and Laura Paddison, Beauty companies and the struggle to source child labour-free mica., The Guardian, Feb 15, 2023, 1:22 AM, <> accessed 22 February 2023

[23] India Const., art 21