CHILD RIGHTS IN INDIA
WHAT RIGHTS DOES A CHILD HAVE IN INDIA?
The Article discusses the various provisions and Acts on the rights of children in India.
Right to free and compulsory elementary education for children between the age of six and fourteen. (Art. 14, cl. A, the Indian Constitution)
The children between the age of 6-14 have the right to education. For such purposes, the government has in place, various schemes like the mid-day meal scheme.
Right against employment in any hazardous work or activity below fourteen years of age. (Art.24, the Indian Constitution)
The children below the age of fourteen cannot be employed in any industry, factory, mine or any other hazardous activity. Such hazardous activities can cause serious health problems to the children.
Article 39(e) ensures that the health and strength of workers, men and women, and the tender age of children are not abused and that citizens are not forced by economic necessity to enter avocations unsuited to their age or strength. (Art. 39, cl. E, the Indian Constitution)
Article 39(f) ensures that children are given opportunities and facilities to develop in a healthy manner and in conditions of freedom and dignity and that childhood and youth are protected against exploitation and against moral and material abandonment. (Art. 39, cl. F, the Indian Constitution)
POCSO ACT, 2012
Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act, 2012 was enacted to safeguard children from sexual offences such as sexual abuse, sexual harassment, sexual assault and pornography and ensure their welfare.
This act is very important in nature and its mechanisms are made easy to use and child friendly so that children can report their sexual abuse and evidence can be recorded easily. It has a speedy justice delivery mechanism due to special courts. It covers a wide range of sexual abuses, other than penile-vaginal penetration.This act provides protection to every child and is not gender-biased. With this act, even the possession and collection of pornographic videos including children becomes illegal and punishable.
This act makes it mandatory for people who witness or have any information about any child sexual abuse to report it. It is punishable by law if any person possesses knowledge about any type of sexual abuse and does not report it to the concerned authorities. The law of India makes any sexual act involving a child below 18 years of age illegal even if it is consensual. Therefore, even if the children below 18 years of age involve in sexual activities with each other, it is punishable.
CHILD LABOUR (PROHIBITION AND REGULATION) ACT, 1986
The most confusing legislation related to child rights in India is related to child labour. This act has made it clear that children cannot be employed or made to work in hazardous factories,mines and industries. It prohibits any child to be employed by their family for the purpose of providing financial aid to the family. Using child as labour is considered to be an offensive and serious criminal activity. Under this act, a child is defined as anyone who is under the age of 14.
Child labour exploits children and deprives them of their childhood because of which they do not get education. This act provides the procedure to be followed in case any child is found to been employed and decides the punishment and/or penalties for the violation of this act. This act aims to improve the condition where children are allowed to work and lays down the rules to be followed when such children are employed where the law permits them to.
As per the Act, Children cannot be made to work for more than 3 hours without taking an interval. They should meet certain health and security standards before employing children.
THE PROHIBITION OF CHILD MARRIAGE ACT, 2006
Child marriage is defined as a marriage of children who are below 18 years of age by UNICEF and is declared as a violation of human rights. Following the guidelines of UNICEF, India had passed the Prohibition of Child Marriage Act in 2006 so that the practice of child marriage can be stopped.
In various parts of the country, India has managed to succeed but, in many states,child marriage still prevails. This is due to India’s rigid customs, traditions and beliefs that Indians are not willing to abide by this act and they step beyond the law. This act was a successor of the Child Marriage Restraint Act of 1929 and had been reformed keeping all the dimensions in mind.
This act has defined various punishments for offenders of this act. It also states the various cases where the marriage can be declared as null and void or can be voidable at the option of the contracting party. Under this act, the court can issue injunctions based on the report by any officer or person or even take suo motu actions. Although this act is intact, still there are some controversies related to the legal age of marriage of Muslim girls.
JUVENILE JUSTICE (CARE AND PROTECTION OF CHILDREN) ACT, 2015
Under this act, children who are between the ages of 16-18 and have committed a heinous crime can be considered as adults and can be imprisoned instead of sent to juvenile jails. They have to undergo psychiatric and social evaluation based on the reports of which, it is decided whether to treat him as an adult or a child.
This was done to ensure that children between the ages of 16-18 years do not think that they can commit crimes and get away with them. This was also done so that a fear develops in the mind of youngsters that they can also be prosecuted like normal adults.
This act also introduces foster care for children who undergo juvenile detention. Such children are sent to foster homes where they can start their lives again. These foster families are observed closely and financial aid is provided to them. This act includes various processes by which children who are abandoned, orphaned or detained can find new homes for themselves.
Author: Aditya Singh,
Amity Law School, Noida/ 2ND YEAR.