Child Rights in India
Author: Muskan Jain
Rights for Children Under Indian Constitution
Who is a Child ?
According to International Law, a ‘Child’ means all persons below the age of 18 years. It is a distinct legal entity as recognised by Indian. People can Vote or get a Driving License or enter into legal contract after attaining of the age of 18 years. The legal age for understanding the age of maturity is 18 for girls and 21 for Boys, Marriage below the legal age is restrained under the Child Marriage Restraint Act, 1929. Below the age of 18 years have to be treated as children and need of care, support and should be protected from abuse and exploitation.
United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (1989)
It is adopted by United Nation in 1989 and ratified by December 1922 in India. It is an International agreement legally binding on parties, popularly referred as CRC. It determines the rights of children regardless of their age. Children also have Special rights or status of their own.
- Convention is based on Four Principles-
- Non- Discrimination (Article 2)
- Best Interest of the Child (Article 3)
- Right to life survival and Development (Article 6)
- Right to be Heard (Article 12)
- Equally applicable to both Girls & Boys, up to age of 18 whether married or have Children.
- It emphasis to the healthy growth and development of children in the family environment.
- It obligates states to respect and ensure fair and equitable rights.
Rights of Children Under CRC
- Survival rights includes- Right to life, Basic Necessities such as adequate food, shelter, standard of living, medical requirements, a name and a nationality.
- Development rights includes- Right to education, practice the religion of own choice and Cultural activities, freedom of thought and conscience, social security and to access information.
- Protection rights includes- Freedom from exploitation, abuse, Inhuman or degrading treatment, neglect, special protection at the time of emergency and armed conflicts.
- Participation rights includes- Rights of children to participate in freedom of expression, thought, conscience and religion. To assemble peacefully and to join associations.
Constitutional Provisions Regarding Rights of Children
The Constitution of India in its Part lll (Fundamental Rights) and Part lV (Directive Principles of State Policy) and Fundamental Duties guarantees certain rights to the children and legal entitlements that are being recognized nationally and internationally. The legal provisions are:-
Article 14 – Citizens of India must be treated equally before law and given equal protection without any discrimination or arbitrariness.
Article 15(3) – Right against Discrimination is prohibited by the Constitution. It shall not hold a ground to prevent the state from making special provisions for Women and Children for their benefit.
Article 21 – Right to life and personal liberty and due process of law. A person has the right to adequate food, shelter, clothing etc. such life shall not mean mere animal existence.
Article 21(A) – It was inserted by 86th Amendment Act, 2002. The shall shall provide Right to free and compulsory age group of 6-14 years.
The Supreme Court in its liberal interpretation of life and liberty under Article 21 held that the term liberty also includes livelihood, dignity to human beings and right to education and therefore, right to education is a fundamental right under the Constitution. The case of Mohini Jain came to be fortified by SC subsequent bench of Unnikrishnan’s case, held that right to education can be restricted to primary educational level not higher secondary level.
Article 23 – Right to being protected from being trafficked and forced into bounded labour.
Traffic in Human beings means to deal in men and women like goods, such as to Sell or, let or otherwise dispose them of. It would include traffic in women and children fir immoral or other purposes.
It is Prohibited and any Contravention of this provision shall be an punishable offence. For imposing compulsory service for public purposes, the state shall not make any discrimination on grounds of caste, race, religion or class.
Article 24 – It prohibits Hazardous employment of children till the age of 14 years in a factory or mine.
Article 29 – It protects interests of Minorities rights.
Article 39(e) – Right to be protected from being abused and forced by economic necessity to enter in the occupations that unsuits their age or strength. E.g. Child Labour is one of the main social evil that makes child physically and mentally abuse.
Article 39(f) – Right to equal opportunities and facilities to develop in a healthy manner and conditions of freedom, dignity and guaranteed protection of childhood and youth against exploitation, moral and material abandonment.
Article 45 – It provide rights to early childhood Care and Education to all children until they complete the age of 6 years. The state shall protect the child and ensure the Safe growing environment. It is also responsible for the development with Free and Compulsory education.
Article 46 – Rights of weaker section of the people to be protected from Social injustice and exploitation.
Article 47 – Right to Nutrition and Standard of Living of its people and improved public health.
Article 51 A(k) – It shall be the duty of every citizen of India who is a parent or guardian to provide opportunities for education to his child and the ward between the age of 6 to 14 years. Constitution strictly mention to provide education, as it is the duty of parent for child future growth and development of country.
In spite of all these bits of the legal framework, there is still a scarcity which is prevailing, there are challenges to be faced in both present and in future. There are many circumstances where Justice has been denied to the children, social evils like child marriage and child labour are still practiced in society. The reasons for Child labour is nothing but poverty. The child is being kidnapped, killed physically mentally or sexually abused all these instances are still happening. The rate of crime is high in the society. The law should strengthen its strictness and all the punishments should instill the fear in the minds of people.
All children deserves equality despite their difference. They are entitled to all of these rights, no matter what race, colour, religion, language, gender defines them. These rights encompass freedom of children and their civil rights, family environment, necessary healthcare and welfare, education, leisure and cultural activities and special protection measures.