Constitution of India

 

The Indian constitution accords rights to children as citizens of the country, and in keeping with their special status the State has even enacted special laws. The Constitution, promulgated in 1950, encompasses most rights included in the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child as Fundamental Rights and Directive Principles of State Policy. Over the years, many individuals and public interest groups have approached the apex court for restitution of fundamental rights, including child rights. The Directive Principles of State Policy articulate social and economic rights that have been declared to be “fundamental in the governance of the country and … the duty of the state to apply … in making laws” (Article 37). The government has the flexibility to undertake appropriate legislative and administrative measures to ensure children’s rights; no court can make the government ensure them, as these are essentially directives. These directives have enabled the judiciary to give some landmark judgements promoting children’s rights, leading to Constitutional Amendments as is in the case of the 86th Amendment to the Constitution that made Right to Education a fundamental right.

 

Constitutional Guarantees that are meant specifically for children include:

 

  • Right to free and compulsory elementary education for all children in the 6-14 year age group     (Article 21 A)     
  • Right to be protected from any hazardous employment till the age of 14 years (Article 24)
  • Right to be protected from being abused and forced by economic necessity to enter occupations unsuited to their age or strength (Article 39(e)) 
  • Right to equal opportunities and facilities to develop in a healthy manner and in conditions of freedom and dignity and guaranteed protection of childhood and youth against exploitation and against moral and material abandonment (Article 39 (f)) 
  • Right to early childhood care and education to all children until they complete the age of six years (Article 45)

 

Besides, Children also have rights as equal citizens of India, just as any other adult male or female:

 

  • Right to equality (Article 14)           
  • Right against discrimination (Article 15)
  • Right to personal liberty and due process of law (Article 21)           
  • Right to being protected from being trafficked and forced into bonded labour (Article 23)
  • Right of minorities for protection of their interests (Article 29)
  • Right of weaker sections of the people to be protected from social injustice and all forms of exploitation (Article 46)
  • Right to nutrition and standard of living and improved public health (Article 47)