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Rights of Children

Article 24 of the Indian constitution provides that no child below the age of 14yrs can be
employed in factories, mines or hazardous place of work. However, new laws have been
made against child labor, which provide that along with the above mentioned, a child
cannot be employed as help domestically, in shops, and restaurants etc, and puts a
complete ban on child labor.

Besides the above mentioned rights/articles, there are various provisions of law, which
though do not talk about special rights of children in India, but along with adults, children
also get security for their general rights.

The UN has been talking about the rights of children and has held conventions on
children’s rights. India has become a co-signatory of UN Charter of Children’s Rights.
Some of the important provisions of this charter are as follows:

1) Article 6 – Right to Life
2) Article 7 – Right to Acquire Nationality
3) Article 13 – Right to Freedom of Expression
4) Article 14 – Right to Freedom of Thought, Conscience and Religion
5) Article 15 – Right to Freedom of Association and Peaceful Assembly
6) Article 16 – Right to Protection of the law against arbitrary or unlawful
interference with his/her privacy, family, home or correspondence
7) Article 26 – Right to benefit from social security
8) Article 27 - Right to a standard of living adequate for the child’s physical, mental,
spiritual and social development
9) Article 28 – Right to Education
10) Article 24 – Right to Enjoyment of highest attainable standard of health and to
facilities for the treatment of illness and rehabilitation of health

Besides this, Article 17 – provides that every child has the right to access to information
and materials and it is also the right of a child to be protected from information and
materials which is harmful to him/her.

11) Article 34 talks about prohibiting child abuse and trafficking
12) Articles 37, 39 and 40 protect a child from torture, exploitation and abuse

The UN Charter on Child’s Rights was created, recognizing the exceptional vulnerability
of child and it was accepted that the essential needs of children should be given topmost
priority in the allocation of resources at all times. It also emphasized on the importance of
the family and the need to create an environment that is conducive to the healthy growth
of a child. It advocated concrete public action and sensitivity on the part of all members
of society and government agencies, at the local, regional and national level, to ensure
protection of children’s rights.

who create a chain with (mostly) foreign tourists and compel the child to indulge in sexual activities. Child trafficking is increasing in our country at an alarming rate. due to the loopholes and lack of connection between information technology rules and criminal proceedings. Legislation reflects the commitment of the state to promote an ideal and progressive value system. Although we acknowledge the fact that it is the child which is the future of our country. whereby minor girls are married off to God and forced into prostitution. came into effect on 26th January 1950. of the two lakh prostitutes. Another area of concern is the increasing tourism in India and sexual abuse. It has been found that at times. the parents send their children to middle men. due to acute poverty. by the tourists. quite popular in the states of Maharashtra and Karnataka. Even though appropriate legislation may not necessarily mean that the objectives of the legislation will be achieved. every child is entitled to free and compulsory education till the age of 14yrs. around 40. about 1/3 of the population is children. its very existence creates an enabling provision whereby the state can be compelled to take action. no stringent action is left possible. It provides a protective umbrella for the rights of children. Although Indian criminal laws prohibit pornography completely. Rights in the Constitution of India :- The Constitution of India. 000 girls are below the age of 18years. we also have practices like Devdasi. we have not been able to do anything significant to protect their rights. It is evident that legislation is one of the main weapons of empowerment of children. the fundamental law of the country. According to statistics. whereby child pornography is becoming more and more popular.In India. According to Article 45 of the Indian Constitution. The notion of duty also applies to the state. both of boys and girls. Another form of child abuse is pornography. India follows an adversarial legal system with an in-built bias in favour of the accused who is presumed innocent till proved guilty. Besides this. These rights include :- (i) RIGHT TO EQUALITY [ Article 14 ] (ii) RIGHT TO FREEDOM INCLUDING FREEDOM OF SPEECH AND EXPRESSION [ Article 19(1)(a) ] . in the brothels of Mumbai. The areas of concern related to children and their rights are: 1) Child Labor 2) Child trafficking and sexual abuse – This is one of the greatest concerns of Indian society at present.

These rights are necessary because of their physical and mental immaturity. the children and the grandchildren shall be maintained : (a) In the case of sons and grandsons who have not attained puberty and unmarried girls. Further this provision lays down that the legitimate and the illegitimate child may claim maintenance from his or her father or mother as long as the child is a minor.' Policies and legislations :- According to Section 20 of the Hindu Adoptions and Maintenance Act. during his or her lifetime. health and education of the ward. makes the guardian duty-bound to look in to the support. in the absence of property. But subsection 3 adds : “ Nothing in this Article shall prevent the state from making any special provision for women and children.(iii) RIGHT TO DUE PROCESS OF LAW [ Article 21 ] (iv) RIGHT AGAINST EXPLOITATION [ Article 23 ] (v) RELIGIOUS. Section 24 of the Guardians and Wards Act. then by the nearest grandparent. if she is rich. or any mine.paternal or maternal if they are rich. CULTURAL AND EDUCATIONAL RIGHTS [ Article 29 ] (vi) RIGHT TO CONSTITUTIONAL REMEDIES [ Article 32 ] In addition of these basic rights.” Article 24 states that ‘ no child below the age of fourteen years shall be employed to work in any factory. . caste. a Hindu is bound. place of birth or any of them’. to maintain his or her legitimate or illegitimate children. or engage in any hazardous employment’. race. After the time of weaning. sex. there are certain fundamental rights especially for children. and if the father is poor. through which they can be maintained. 1956. and if both father and mother are poor. Article 15 of the Constitution ‘ prohibits discrimination of citizens on the grounds only of religion. the children are especially vulnerable and need special protection. 1890. Article 39 (9)(e) states that ‘ it is the duty of the state to secure that children of tender age are not abused and forced by economic necessity to enter vocations unsuited to their age and strength’. Rule 133 of the Islamic Law states that every man is bound to maintain his children and grandchildren till the time of weaning. 6 Article 39(f) states that the ' state should ensure that children are given opportunities and facilities to develop in a healthy manner and in conditions of freedom and dignity. by the father. by the mother.

then the adoptive mother should be at least 21 years older than the person to be adopted. the adoptive father or mother must have a Hindu daughter or a son's daughter at the time of adoption. but if both the father and mother are rich then by both of them in proportion of 2/3: 1/3. 2000. Kritrima. (iv) If the adoption is of a son. etc into a single form. 32 (ii) Adoption by a person of unsound mind is no adoption at all. or her husband has ceased to be a Hindu. not requiring scrutiny or permission of the court except when a person other than the natural guardian is giving the child in adoption. Section 2 of the HAMA defines who are considered Hindus for the application of this Act. grand-son. (a) If the adoption is of a daughter. if be able to do so.Such maintenance is subject to reimbursement against the person liable to maintain. The Act came into operation with effect from December 21. then the adoptive father or mother must not have a Hindu son. (c) In the case of illegitimate sons who have not attained puberty and legitimate unmarried daughters. (c) If the adoption is to be made by a female Hindu of a minor male child. Indian Adoption Laws :- Hindu Adoption and Maintenance Act 1956 (HAMA) :- It is the only statute in force governing adoption of children and its ambit is confined to Hindus in India. or a widow. by the mother only. (b) In the case of major children. There is a legal vacuum as regards adoption by or of other communities in India. in-country adoption is even now a private act between the natural and adoptive parents. and unified several forms of adoption which prevailed earlier like Dattaka. 1956. the competent authority which makes an order for sending a neglected juvenile or a delinquent juvenile to a juvenile home or a special home or a fit institution may make an order requiring the parent or other person liable to maintain the juvenile to contribute to his maintenance. in her own rights provided that she is not married. by the father only. (vi) Under this Act. . (v) The HAMA drastically amended the pristine law of adoption among Hindus. (b) If the adoption if to be made by a Hindu of a minor female then the adoptive should be at least 21 years older than the minor female child. or a divorcee.Some of its essential clauses are :- (i) Only the parents or guardians can give a child in adoption and the person adopting must have the right to take and be lawfully capable of taking a son or daughter in adoption. excluding married daughter disabled on account of some disease or physical or mental infirmity. in the prescribed manner. or great grandson living at the time of adoption. (iii)A female Hindu can adopt. Under the Juvenile Justice ( Care and Protection of Children ) Act.

It provides that the rehabilitation and social integration of a child shall begin during the stay of the child in a children's home or special home by adoption. relationship between the two. and is to be read along with the respective laws. The JJ Act also requires that a child's consent be taken into consideration before the adoption takes place. Some of its clauses are that a guardian cannot be appointed for a minor married girl whose husband is fit and capable of being her guardian and a minor whose property is under the superintendence of the Court of Wards is competent to appoint a guardian and a minor whose father is alive and fit to be the guardian in the opinion of the court. whom their parents have abandoned or deserted. plans. Mother gets preference over the father in case of illegitimate children. The Juvenile Justice ( Care and Protection ) of Children Act 2000 :- The JJ Act 2000 contains provisions relating to rehabilitation and social integration of children ( Chapter IV). sex of the child. It may be indirectly invoked. religion. The policy documents are reference points available for planning and other interventions. in certain cases.(vii) Both sons as well as daughters can now be adopted. foster care. if capable of forming any. The statute does not deal with adoption as such but mainly deals with guardianship. 33 This Act provides that a person may be appointed Guardian in relation to a minor for its welfare. This Act defines a child as someone who has not attained the age of eighteen years. and sending the child to after-care organization. Some major policy and plan documents are the following :- . it would only consider the child as the ward. deceased parents' wishes if any. But the process in not equivalent of adoption. and programmes relating to children have been undertaken in India. to confer legal guardianship of children during their minority. nearness in relation. sponsorship. The Guardians and Wards Act (1890) :- This Act is indirectly invoked by other communities also to become guardians of children during minority. Legitimate as well as illegitimate children. and child's own preferences. can now be adopted and under this Act. In doing so the court has to consider matters like age. the age of adoption is up to fifteen years. capacity and character of the proposed guardian. It also empowers the Juvenile Justice Board to give a child in adoption and also carry out such investigations as are required for giving children in adoption in keeping with the provisions of the various guidelines for adoption issued from time to time by the state government office. or as corollary to the latter. Policies and Action Plans :- A number of policy initiatives.

This policy consists of three main ingredients : the legal action plan. Some of the major goals for 1999-2000 were:- (i) Reduction of infant mortality rate to less than ten and in severe (ii) Reduction in moderate malnutrition among under-5. The plan of action identifies quantifiable targets in terms of major as well as supporting sectoral goals. The continuous decline of sex ratio has been a major cause of concern among the socially conscious demographers and policy makers. India continues to have the highest number of child labourers globally. national and international law.children by half. (iii) National Plan For SAARC Decade of the Girl Child 1991-2000 This plan identified three major goals : (i) survival and protection of the girl child and safe motherhood (ii) overall development of the girl child (iii) special protection for vulnerable girl children in need of care and protection. and war. Girls are consistently denied equal opportunities to attend and complete primary schooling. and they also suffer from acts and omissions by their own caretakers.000 street children nationwide exposed to violation and exploitation. Hundreds and thousands of girls are trafficked and used for prostitution in brothels in cities. guardians. They suffer from poverty. Measures to help realize the Rights of the Child : A large number of children in India still live much below the standard set by the Constitution. and project based plan of action. (iv) National Plan of Action for Children 1992 The NPA is a follow-up of the promises made by the global fraternity at the World Summit for Children. (ii) National Policy for Child Labour 1987 This policy was formulated with the basic objective of suitably rehabilitating the children withdrawn from employment and reducing the incidence of child labour in areas where there is a known concentration of child labour. The phenomenon of the sale . This Policy declares the nation's children as supremely important assets and is outdated now. focusing of Central government programmes. neglect and exploitation. (ii) Free and compulsory education will be provided to all children upto the age of fourteen years and physical sports and games will also be promoted in schools.(i) National Policy for Children 1974 India is one of the few states which adopted a National Policy for Children. Some of the salient features of this policy were as :- (i) A comprehensive health programme will cover all children and programmes will be implemented to provide nutritional facilities to children. (iii) Improved assistance to children under difficult circumstances. (iii) Children have to be protected against abuse. and parents. Education is far from universal. famine. There are more than 500. diseases.

of children is universal. It is a huge obstacle in the way of the child's right to survival and development. There is an urgent need to introduce health education.of families and neighbours. Also. Insensitive and inadequate legal interventions with regard to child sexual exploitation and sexual abuse have to be modified. attitudes. Every state will now have to enact a comprehensive law to implement the provision in the amendment. strangers and friends. leading to a powerful. labour inspectorate . the deprived children are not even aware that their rights are being violated. A major obstacle in the realizing of child rights is the low awareness of rights and laws. The HIV/AIDS pandemic has become an increasing threat to the life of children in India. An obstacle in realizing the rights of the child is the debt burden facing third-world countries like India. The child in prostitution is a victim of paedophiles who pose as tourists and of traffickers who force them into flesh trade. if informal.. The 93rd Constitutional Amendment has been passed to make education a fundamental right. Courts also play an important role in promoting the rights of the children and have ensured the implementation of progressive laws on behalf of the children. And with greater community awareness comes greater involvement. . assumptions. The definition of child sexual abuse has many grey areas and it is not flexible enough to encompass a wide range of cultural contexts. right from the implementation authorities to the parents and the victims. Also severe action has to be taken against family members who are the main culprits of selling children and sexually abusing them. children need to be made aware of the increasing menace of HIV/AIDS. The best guarantee that the government will take its responsibilities seriously is when all sectors of society become involved in the genuine national movement. and values will correspondingly change. We need stringent legislation to deal with sexual abuse and exploitation. As the implications of child rights and the principle of the Convention on the Rights of the Child start to permeate society. In most cases. Making child rights a reality is possible only when laws relating to children are known to everyone.