The fundamental rights declared in the Constitution of India available to the children is contained in Article 21A (incorporated as per Constitution 86th Amendment Act, 2002) which came into force on April 1, 2010. The said Article says the State shall provide free and compulsory education to all children aged 6 to 14 in such manner as the state may by law determine. This right is a guaranteed right available to the children which is enforceable through the court of law. The burden is totally on the state for creating an opportunity for their education. So also Article 24 of the Constitution provided a fundamental right to the children by declaring that no child below the age of 14 shall be employed to work in any factory or mine or engaged in any other hazardous employment. Thus, their education is guaranteed, and a prohibition is imposed for engaging children below the age of 14 in hazardous work.
When we examine and analyse the above fundamental rights, it is crystal clear that the Constitution imposes a mandatory duty on the State for their protection and security. What is ultimately intended by this provision is to preserve and protect the humanity, the continuance of which totally depends on the children of today. The obligation of the State for education, health etc. of children also contained in Article 39 of the Constitution coming under the Directive Principles of State Policy. Article 39E includes the principles of policy for securing health and strength of workers, men and women, and tender age of children are not abused. The Article 39F introduced as per 42nd Amendment Act of 1996 further declares that the children are given opportunities and the facilities to develop in a healthy manner and conditions of freedom and dignity and that childhood and youth are protected against exploitation and moral and material abandonment. Article 45 introduced under the 86th amendment contains provisions for early childhood care and education to children below the age of six. It provides that the state shall endower to provide early childhood care and education for all until then.
Another important provision has been introduced in the Chapter of Fundamental Duties (Article 51K) as per 86th amendment. It provides thus:
“It shall be the duty of every Indian who is a parent or guardian to provide opportunities for education to the child or as the case may be or ward between the age of 6 and 14 years”.
The cumulative reading of the concerned provisions contained in the Chapter of Fundamental Rights, Fundamental Duties and Directive Principles of State Policy, establishes the paramount duty of the State and the parents to create a situation for education, health and well being of the children in our society. That shows the greatest concern for the preservation of the humanity by introducing such provisions in the Constitution.
While the state takes the complete duty for well being of the children, the emphasis is also made on the duties and obligation of the parents or their guardians for the well being of the children.
The government has enacted the provisions for children’s education and wellbeing.
They relate to:
1. Right to education
2. Right to juvenile justice and rehabilitation
3. Commission for the protection of child rights
4. Prevention of offences against childbirth, 2009
5. Protection of Children Against Sexual Assaults Bill, 2010.
In this context, it is appropriate to note the some of the International Human
Right Instruments available for the protection of the children.
Declaration on the rights of the child 1924.
Universal declaration of human rights, 1948.
European convention on human rights, 1950.
United Nations declaration on the rights of the child, 1959.
International provident on civil and political rights (ICCPR).
United Nations standard minimum rules for the administration of juvenile justice, 1985.
The above discussions indicate the multifarious function undertaken by India and international human rights agencies for the protection, wellbeing and security for the development of the children. The reason that the continuance of humanity rests on the protection and security available to the children all over the world.
(The writer is former High Court judge)...