Child Rights in India

INTRODUCTION

Every human being below the age of eighteen years is known as ‘child’ according to the definition of the United Nations’ Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC)[1]. In Geneva Conference (1924)[2], the need for special safeguards for this child had been widely accepted. It was also proclaimed in that declaration that the child by the reason of his physical and mental immaturity needs this special safeguard and appropriate legal protection. The Declaration of Child Rights was adopted by the General Assembly on 20th Nov 1959. Thirty years later, the world leaders recognized that children should have human rights of an exclusive manner, and for that, they need a Charter[3].

The Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC, 1989) is the first legally binding international instrument to incorporate the full range of human rights: civil, cultural, economic, political, and social rights within child rights[4]. The Convention sets out these rights in 54 articles and two optional protocols[5]. It includes all those basic human rights that every child should have wherever she/he may live for instance-

  1. The Right to Survival,
  2. Right to develop to the fullest,
  3. Right to get protection from harmful influences, abuse, and exploitation,
  4. Right to participate fully in family, cultural, and social life.

CHILD RIGHTS IN INDIA

(Article 39) Directive Principles of State Policy of the Indian Constitution empowers the state to direct policies so that the children are not abused and their childhood is protected against exploitation and moral abandonment. As a follow up of this constitutional commitment and being a party to the UN Declaration on the Rights of the Child, 1959, India adopted a National Policy on Children (NPC) in 1974.

This policy reaffirmed the constitutional provisions and authorized the State to provide adequate service to children through the period of their growth in order to ensure their full physical, mental and social development.

Consequently, the Child Labour (Prohibition & Regulation) Act, 1986 came into force debarring the children below 14 years of age into any work or occupations. Being the signatory of the UNCRC (1992), India has globally recognized Child Rights as binding constraints. After ratification of the UNCRC in 1992, India changed its law on juvenile 3 justice [Juvenile & Justice (Care & Protection) Act, 2000] to ensure that every person below the age of 18 years of age, who is in need of care of protection, is entitled to receive it from the state.

The National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCRC) was set up in March 2007 under the Commission for Protection of Child Rights Act, 2005. Ensuring all laws, policies, programs, and administrative mechanisms in consonance with the Child Rights perspective, became the Commission’s responsibility. The Constitution of India as of now, guarantees all the children certain rights which include: –

  1. [Article 15(3)] reads nothing in this article shall prevent the State from making any special provision for women and children.
  2. (Article 21-A) Right to free and compulsory elementary education for all children between the age group 6-14 years.
  3.  (Article 24) Right to be protected from any hazardous employment till the age of 14 years.
  4.  [Article 39(e)] Right to be protected from being abused and forced by economic necessity to enter occupation unsuited to their age or strength.
  5. [Article 39(f)] Right to equal opportunities and facilities to develop in a healthy manner and in condition of freedom and dignity and guaranteed protection of childhood and youth against exploitation and against moral and material abandonment.
  6.  (Article 51-A) says that it shall be the fundamental duty of the parent and guardian to provide opportunities for education to his child or as the case may be, ward between the age of six and fourteen.

Also read- Right of custody of Grandchildren

CONCLUSION

However, despite having so many acts, laws, and provisions for the welfare of the children still, they are not secured. Several indicators are showing how the Child Rights are being violated in different parts of our country whose plausible social and economic consequences would be more dangerous. Child Abuse is another dangerous part of erosion which silently kills the potentials and development spurt of many children.

We still live in a tabooed society in our country, where no-proper sex education is provided with the children. Children get molested and abused but due to lack of sufficient awareness, they fail to protest and keep on becoming victims of exploitation for long.

All of this can be avoided if we as parents and responsible citizens are aware of the child rights and are willing to do anything to protect a child. NGOs like CRY, Katha, Genesis Foundation, Smile Foundation, etc are working for the welfare of the children by providing them with shelter, protection, food, education, and other facilities.


References

[1]Resolution 1386 (XIV), Declaration of the Rights of the Child.

[2] Declaration of Geneva, League of Nations, DOC A. 107. 1924 IV (1924).

[3] Charter refers to universally agreed set of non-negotiable standard obligations.

[4] See Reynaert, Didier., Bourverne-de Bie, M., and Vande Velde , S. (2009) ; ‘A Review of Children Right’s Literature Since the Adoption of the United Nations Convention on The Rights of the Child’, Childhood, 16(4), 518-534.

[5] See ‘Convention on the Rights of the Child’ , General Comment, No. 12, Fifty-first Session, Geneva, 25May- 12 June, 2009.

This article is written by Kush Bhardwaj and edited by Rupreet Kaur Dhariwal.