Child is considered as an important national asset of a nation as the future of
any nation depends on how its children mature and develop. In the present times
protection of children from all kinds of exploitation and abuses has become the
main objective of our society. There have been many instances of child
exploitation in the form of sexual molestation, child marriage, underfeeding,
verbal abuse, child battering, child prostitution, child pornography and child
labour which indirectly highlights our society’s own failure to protect our
future generations. Child protection is regarded as one of the main
responsibility of the government as well as the society and considering the
challenges and problems faced by the children.
In this paper we have specifically spoken about the various kinds of atrocities
faced by children and included a case study, local laws and suggestion on child
rights in India.
The question of child’s rights has emerged as one of the most vibrant issues for
discussion in this new millennium. The fact remains that even today children are
a part of the disadvantaged minority group so far as realization of human rights
and social justice are concerned. The main reason for this lacuna is that
children are still not a complete political entity in true sense of the term.
Besides, they are generally physically, mentally and economically defenseless.
In this rapidly changing age of globalization, taking care of child’s right at
every stage has taken a back seat. This not only affects the whole value system,
but also their present social and economic needs. No doubt that the future of
humanity depends on children to a large extent, even then a very partial and
parochial approach has been followed towards bringing them on the mainstream of
social and political agenda.
This marginalization takes even a much worse turn when child is either orphan,
loner, a destitute, a homeless, a child labour, a bonded labour, a domestic
help, a street child, a physically or a mentally challenged child. In such
circumstances, they remain mostly in uncared state and became highly vulnerable
to crimes which are perpetrated against them. Violations of Child Rights are
hooked to social wrong. It ranges from actual crimes to neglect by society and
unsatisfactory parenting, innocence, inexperience, wrong exposure, improper
care, lack of good guidance and non existence of good social security system are
some of the major reasons for children’s continued vulnerability and
Legal Definition of Child:
The term ‘Child’ is not defined in the Indian Constitution. According to Article
1 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child 1989, ‘a child
means every human being below the age of eighteen years unless, under the law
applicable to the child, majority is attained earlier’3. The legal definition of
child tends to depend upon the purpose. There are a number legislations in India
which defines the term ‘Child’ depending upon the purpose. Under the Indian
Majority Act,1875 the age of majority is eighteen years & in case of a minor for
whose person & property a guardian is appointed or whose property is under the
supervision of the Court of Wards the age of majority twenty-one years.
Under the Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulations) Act, 1986, child means a
person who has not completed his fourteenth year of age. Under the Child
Marriage Restraint Act, 1926, child means a person who, if a male, has not
completed twenty-one years of age and, if a female, has not completed eighteen
years of age. Under Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection) Act, 2000, ‘Juvenile’
or ‘Child’ means a person who has not completed eighteenth year of age.
United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) The United Nations
Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) is a comprehensive,
internationally binding agreement on the rights of children, adopted by the UN
General Assembly in 1989. It incorporates children's civil and political rights
(like their treatment under the law), social, economic and cultural rights (like
an adequate standard of living) & protection rights (from abuse and
exploitation). A child is defined in the UNCRC as a person under the age of 18
The children are the greatest gift of God to man, our most precious and
important assets. The welfare and development of any community depends largely
on the health and well being of its children. It has been said ‘who hold souls
of the children holds the nation’.4 The physical and mental health of a nation
is determined largely in the manner in which it is shaped in early stages.
Justice V.R. Krishna Iyer says that it is our obligation to the generation by
opening up all opportunities for every child to unfold its personality and rise
to its full stature physical, moral, mental and spiritual and it is the birth
right of every child that cries for justice from the world as a whole.
During World War-ll Winston Churchill said “there is no finer investment for any
community than putting milk into babies.” This appeal to the people everywhere,
this fundamental faith in Juvenile Justice, this reorganization of the worth of
the infants born and unborn, is the beginning of Juvenile Justice, says Justice
Major Child Issues In India
# Child labour.
# Girl Child.
# Child Marriage.
# Child Trafficking.
# Gender Inequality.
Constitutional Provisions Relating To Children:
The framers of our Constitution were well known of the fact the development of
the nation can be achieved by the development of the children of the nation & it
is necessary to protect the children from exploitation as well.
are the provisions of the Indian Constitution relating to children:
Constitutional Guarantees that are meant specifically for children include:
Article 21A provides that the State shall provide free and compulsory education
to all children of the age of six to fourteen years in such manner as the State
may, by law, determine.
Article 24 provides that no child below the age of fourteen years shall be
employed to work in any factory or mine or engaged in any other hazardous
Article 39(e) provides that the shall, in particular, direct its policy towards
securing 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.
Article 39(f) provides that the shall, in particular, direct its policy towards
securing 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
Article 45 provides that the State shall endeavour to provide early childhood
care and education for all children until they complete the age of six years.
Besides, Children also have rights as equal citizens of India, just as any other
adult male or female:
Article 14 provides that the State shall not deny to any person equality before
the law or the equal protection of the laws within the territory of India.
Article 15 Right against discrimination
Article 21 provides that no person shall be deprived of his life or personal
liberty except according to procedure established by law.
Article 23 Right to being protected from being trafficked and forced into bonded
Article 29 Right of minorities for protection of their interests.
Article 46 Right of weaker sections of the people to be protected from social
injustice and all forms of exploitation.
Article 47 Right to nutrition and standard of living and improved public health.
Apart from the Constitution there are a number of legislations which deals with
children. The following are some of them:
The Children (Pledging of Labour) Act, 1933
The Act was enacted during pre-independence era but remains in force. Object of
the Act is eradicate the evils rising from pledging the labour of young
children, An agreement to pledge the labour of children below 15 years by a
parent or guardian of a child in return for any payment or benefit is void.8,
Act penalize both parent or guardian and employer in case of pledge of labour of
the child. Employer is liable for a fine of Rs.200/- 9and parent or guardian is
liable for fine upto Rs.50/-
The Employment of Children Act, 1938
This is the earliest unrepealed legislation on the statute book controlling the
employment of under aged persons in certain types of occupation. It provides: No
child who has not completed 15 years of age can be employed in any occupation
connected with transport of passengers, goods or mail by railways, or a port
authority within the limit of a port12. Limited protection to the children who
are within 15-17 years of age. This protection is not applicable to children who
are employed as either apprentices or are receiving vocational training.
The Factories Act, 1948
The first Welfare Legislation passed by the Britishers was Factories Act,1881.
The implementation of the Act was restricted: The Act was again amended in 1948
and the key
features are as follows Prohibits the employment of children below 14 years of
age in factory14. Factory covers the establishment, which employs 10 or more
workers with the aid of power or 20 or more workers without the aid of power15.
Persons who are between the 14 and 15 years, they can be employed under
following restrictions provided under Section 68, 69 and 71 of the Act: Such
persons should have certificate of fitness issued by a Surgeon and should carry
a token giving a reference to such certificate.16 # The certifying Surgeon
should follow the procedure laid down in Section 69. # They should not work at
night i.e. 12 consecutive hours including the period from 10 PM to 6 AM.
The Mines Act, 1952
The scope of Mines Act is limited. Applies to excavation where operation for the
purpose of searching for or obtaining minerals has been or is carried out.19 Not
only prohibits the employment of any ‘child’20 but even presence of a child in
any part of mine which is below ground or in any open cast working in which
mining operation is carried on.21 Adolescent who has completed the age of
sixteen years is allowed to work only if he has a medical certificate of fitness
for work.22 Certificate is valid for 12 months only.
The Apprentice Act, 1961
Object of the Act is to provide for the regulation and control of training of
apprentices in trade and for matters connected therewith24.‘Apprentice’ is a
person who is going apprenticeship training in a designated trade in pursuance
of contract of apprenticeship. No person is qualified for being engaged as an
apprentice to undergo training unless he has completed the age of 14 years and
satisfies the others standards of physical fitness and education as may be
prescribed. If the apprentice is minor his guardian is required to enter into a
contract of apprenticeship with the employer and it shall be registered with
The Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act, 1986
The Act is an outcome of various recommendations made by a series of
Committees.26 There was a constant demand in favour of a uniform comprehensive
legislation to prohibit the engagement of children in certain other employments
to achieve this goal, parliament enacted the Child Labour (Prohibition and
Regulation ) Act, 1986
(CLPRA) which came into force on 23 December 1986. The objectives of Child
Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act, 1986 are:
# Banning the employment of children i.e. those who have not completed their
fourteenth year, in specified occupation and processes.
# Laying down procedures to decide modifications to the schedule of banned
occupation or processes.
# Regulating the conditions of work of children in employment where they are not
prohibited from working.
# Laying down enhanced penalties for employment of children in violation of the
provisions of this Act and other Acts which forbid the employment of children.
The Infant Milk Substitutes, Feeding Bottles and Infant Foods (Regulation of
Production, Supply and Distribution) Act 1992
This Act regulates the production, supply and distribution of infant milk
substitutes, feeding bottles & infant foods with a view to the protection &
promotion of breastfeeding & ensuring the proper use of infant foods & other
The Pre-Natal Diagnostic Technique (Regulation and Prevention of Misuse) Act
This Act provides for the regulations of the use of pre-natal diagnostic
techniques for the purpose of detecting genetic or metabolic or chromosomal
abnormalities or certain congenital malformation or sex-linked disorders & for
the prevention of the misuse of such techniques for the purpose of pre-natal sex
determination leading to female foeticide.
The Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act 2000
This Act deals with the law relating to juveniles in conflict with law &
children in need of care & protection, by providing for proper care, protection
& treatment by catering to their development needs & by adopting a child
friendly approach in the adjudication & disposition of matters in the best
interest of children & for their ultimate rehabilitation through various
institutions established under the Act.
Right to Education (RTE) Act, 2009
Free and compulsory education to all children of India in the 6 to 14 age group.
No child shall be held back, expelled or required to pass a board examination
until the completion of elementary education.If a child above 6 years of age has
not been admitted in any school or could not complete his or her elementary
education, then he or she shall be admitted in a class appropriate to his or her
age. However, if a case may be where a child is directly admitted in the class
appropriate to his or her age, then, in order to be at par with others, he or
she shall have a right to receive special training within such time limits as
may be prescribed. Provided further that a child so admitted to elementary
education shall be entitled to free education till the completion of elementary
education even after 14 years.
Proof of age for admission: For the purpose of admission to elementary
education, the age of a child shall be determined on the basis of the birth
certificate issued in accordance with the Provisions of Birth. Deaths and
Marriages Registration Act 1856, or on the basis of such other document as may
be prescribed. No child shall be denied admission in a school for lack of age
proof A child who completes elementary education shall be awarded a certificate.
Call need to be taken for a fixed student–teacher ratio. Improvement in the
quality of education is important.
Policies of the Government regarding Children
The Government of India has made a number of policies regarding the physical,
mental & social development of the children of the country.30 The Government has
also made many policies on the health & education of the children. The following
are some of the important policies of the Government regarding children:
# National Policy for Children, 1974.
# National Policy on Education, 1986.
# National Policy on Child Labour, 1987.
# National Health Policy ,2002.
National Policy for Children 1974
India is one of the few countries in the world which have a written policy for
children. This policy declares that the children are the ‘supreme asset of the
nation ’.31The following are some of the features of the policy:
# All the children shall be covered under a comprehensive health programme.
# Programmes to be implemented to provide nutrition to children & remove
deficiency from the diet of the children.
# To provide non-formal education.
# Special attention to be taken towards the physically challenged, mentally
# All children shall be ensured equality of opportunity.
National Policy on Education 1986
This was second policy on education ; the first policy of 1968 was revised by
this policy. This policy was regarded as a landmark one. This policy gave
highest importance on the Universal Primary Education. It also gave importance
to early childhood care & education. It gave emphasis on the need of large-scale
investment on the development of The Rights Of Children in India children both
through Government & through voluntary organizations. Later on a number
programmes were undertaken throughout the country like
the Operation Black Board, Sarva Siksha Abhiyan etc. The Operation Black Board &
Sarva Siksha Abhiyan became very popular all over the country.
National Policy on Child Labour 1987
The National Policy on Child Labour is a landmark Endeavour in the progressive
elimination of child labour in India.The policy encompasses actions in the field
of education, health, nutrition, integrated child development & employment.
The National Policy on Child Labour is set under the following three heads:
# The Legislative Plan.
# Focusing of general programmes for benefiting child labour wherever possible.
# Project-based plan of action in areas of high concentration of child labour
engaged in wage/quasi-wage employment.
National Health Policy 2002
The first policy on health, 1983 aimed at achieving ‘health for all by the year
2000 ’. The second policy on health, 2002 envisages giving priority to school
health problems which aimed at health education & regular health check-ups at
schools. The principle feature of this policy was to prevent communicable
diseases like HIV/AIDS &to provide for universal immunization of children
against all major preventable disease.
M.C. Mehta Vs. State of Tamil Nadu
In this case, Indian activist plaintiff M.C. Mehta sued the state of Tamil Nadu
to improve the working conditions for children and to provide children rescued
from hazardous labor with an education. The Hon’ble Supreme Court issued a
landmark ruling that the Indian Constitution (Article 24) requires the state to
endeavor to provide a free, compulsory education for children. The Court found
that children under the age of 14 could not be engaged in hazardous employment,
and ordered the government to establish and maintain a child labor
rehabilitation welfare fund. Employers that violated child labor laws would be
required to make a deposit into the fund; the government would also be required
to offer the parent of each child engaged in hazardous employment a job, or else
make a deposit into the fund.
Bandhua Mukti Morcha Vs. Union of India and others
In this case, the Supreme Court held "Therefore, whenever it is shown that the
labourer is made to provide forced labour, the Court would raise a presumption
that he is required to do so in consideration of an advance or other economic
consideration received by him and he is, therefore, a bonded labour. This
presumption may be rebutted by the employer and also by the State Government if
it so chooses but unless and until satisfactory material is
provided for rebutting this presumption, the Court must proceed on the basis
that the labourer is a bonded labourer entitled to the benefit of provisions of
the Act. The State Government cannot be permitted to repudiate its obligation to
identify, release and rehabilitate the bonded labourers on the plea that though
the concerned labourers may be providing forced labour, the State Government
does not owe any obligation to them unless and until they show in an appropriate
legal proceeding conducted according to the rules of adversary system of
justice, that they are bonded labourers."
J.P.Unnikrishnan & Others Vs. State of Andhra Pradesh & Others
In this case, the Supreme Court held that citizens of this country have the
fundamental right to education and the said right flows from Article 21 of the
Constitution. This right is, however, not an absolute right. Every child/citizen
of this country has the right to free education until he completes the age of
fourteen years. Thereafter, his right to education is subject to limits of the
economic capacity and development of the State.
Mohini Jain vs. State of Karnataka
In this case, the Supreme Court was called upon to deal with the question of
right to education under Article 41 and once again the Court emphasized the
importance of Directive Principles by holding that the right to education is
concomitant to the Fundamental Rights and made the following observation: “The
directive principles which are fundamental in the governance of the country
cannot be isolated from the Fundamental Rights guaranteed under Part III. These
principles have to be sent into the Fundamental Rights. Both are supplementary
to each other. The State is under a constitutional mandate to each other. The
State is under a constitutional mandate to create conditions in which the
Fundamental Rights guaranteed to the individuals under Part III could be enjoyed
by all. Without making “Right to education” under Article 41 of the Constitution
a reality, the Fundamental Rights under Chapter III shall remain beyond the
reach of large majority which is illiterate. The Fundamental Rights guaranteed
under Part III of the Constitution of India including the right to freedom of
speech and expression and other rights under Article 19 cannot be appreciated
and fully enjoyed unless a citizen is education and is conscious of his
Vishal Jeet vs. Union of India
H'onble Supreme Court issued directions to the state Government for setting up
rehabilitate homes for children found begging in streets and also the minor
girls pushed into 'flesh trade' to protective homes."
Gaurav Jain vs. Union of India
H'onble Supreme Court to rehabilitate children and child prostitutes after
conducting in depth study of matter .Furthermore juvenile homes should be used
for rehabilitating child prostitutes.
People’s Union Democratic Reforms Vs. Union Of India (Asiad Case)
Justice P.N.Bhagwati,(1) Begar means compulsory work without payment
(2)Non-payment of minimum wages comes in the ambit of forced labour.(3) “The
word ‘force’ ought to interpreted to include not only physical or legal force
but also force arising from compulsion of economic circumstances , which leave
no choice of alternative to a person in want and compels him to provide labour
or service even though the remuneration received for it is less than the minimum
wages.(4)Articles 17,23 and 24 are also enforceable against private persons. In
this case it is the constitutional obligation of the state to provide
protections.(5) Construction works are hazardous .So employment of child below
the age 14 years in construction works is violation of Article of Article 24 .
Sanjit Roy vs. State of Rajasthan
Justice, P.N.Bhagwati, Workers were engaged by Public Works Department,
Rajasthan and they were not being paid minimum wages. The Court said that
non-payment of minimum wages comes under the category of forced labour. Justice
P.N.Bhagwati, “The State cannot be permitted to take advantage of the helpless
condition of the affected persons and extract labour or service from them on
payment of less than the minimum wage. No work of utility and value can be
allowed to be constructed on the blood and sweat of persons who are reduced to a
state of helplessness on account of drought and scarcity conditions.”
Neeraja Chaudhary vs. State of Madhya Pradesh
Justice P.N. Bhagwati, “Whenever it is found that any workman is forced to
provide labour for no remuneration or nominal remuneration, the presumption
would be that he is a bonded labourer unless the employer or the State
Government is in opposition to prove otherwise by rebutting such presumption.”
The Court stressed on released and rehabilitation of bonded labourer.
State of Gujarat vs. Hon’ble High Court of Gujarat
All types of prisoners including prisoners punished for rigorous imprisonment
would be entitled to get minimum wages. Otherwise, it would be beggar.
Labourers Working on Salal Hydro-Project vs State of Jammu & Kashmir
Justice P.N.Bhagwati Same Construction works are hazardous. So employment of
child below the age 14 years in construction works is violation of Article of
Conclusion And Suggestion:
Children constitute the nation‘s valuable human resources. The future well being
of the nation depends on how its children grow and develop. The great poet
Milton said Child Shows the man as morning shows the day. So it is the duty of
the society to look after every child with a view to assuring full development
of its personality. Children are the future custodians and torch bearers of the
Society: they are the messengers of our knowledge, cultural heritage, ideologies
and philosophies. Children are really future components in the form of great
teachers, scientists, judges, rulers, doctors, planners, engineers, politicians
on whom the entire society founded (rests). Unfortunately millions of children
are deprived of their childhood and right to education and thereby they are
subjected to exploitation and abuse.46
# The present title of Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act, 1986
should be amended as Child Labour (Prohibition and Rehabilitation) Act, so that
more focus should be given to rehabilitation rather than regulation.
# Every State Government shall frame Rules under the Right to Education Act,
2009 immediately for the proper implementation of the provisions of the Act.
# Government of India should ratify the Convention No.182 and Recommendation
No.190 which deal with the “Prohibition and Immediate Action for the Elimination
of the Worst Form of Child Labour”. The Convention was adopted in 1999 but the
Government has not yet ratified it.
# The Employment of children in any other employment including Agricultural
/Farm Sector should be made a cognizable offence, non- bailable and non
# Government should encourage the NGOs for elimination of child labour by
granting proper budget periodically and accountability should be fixed on NGOs
to ensure that the funds are utilized for the purpose for which it is given.
# The Judiciary should be more sensitive in dealing with child labour cases. The
general rule of ‘benefit of doubt’ cannot be given to the offending employers.
When guilt is proved, offending employer should be punished with imprisonment
and not with fine. In punishment policy, sentence of imprisonment should be made
a general rule and imposing fine should be an exception. This deters the
employers. Further there is a need to increase the conviction rate.
# M.P.Jain, Indian Constitutional Law (Kamal Law House, Calcutta, 5th edn.,
# Kailash Rai, Constitutional Law of India (Central Law Publications Allahabad
# Rao Mamta, Law relating to Women & Children (Eastern Book Company Lucknow 2nd
# Malik & Raval, Law and Social Transformation (Allahabad Law Agency, 3rd
# Ishwara Bhat, Law and Social Transformation (Eastern book company, 1st
# J.N Pandey Constitutuional Law Of India (Central Law Agency Allahabad, 38th
# http://www.advocatekhoj.com/library/bareacts/prenataldiagnostic /
1. S.Venkateswaran @ Srinivasane., B.A LLB, has completed from Dr.Ambedkar
Goverenment Law college Pondicherry. Currently pursuing LL.M International law
and Human Rights.
2 Kailash Rai, Constitutional Law of India 203(Central Law Publications
Allahabad 7th edn.,2008),
3 Available at http://www.ohchr.org/EN/ProfessionalInterest/Pages/CRC.aspx
(visited on February 25, 2018)
4 Shriniwas Gupta, Rights of Child and Child Labour: A Critical Study, JILI,
5 V.R. Krishna Iyer, Jurisprudence of Juvenile Justice: A Preambular
Perspective. Quoted in Supra note 1.
7 J.N Pandey Constitutuional Law Of India 88 (Central Law Agency Allahabad, 38th
8 Section 3, The Children (Pledging of Labour) Act, 1933.
9 Section 6, ibid.
10 Section 4, ibid.
11 The Employment of Children Act, 1938, Act No.XXVI of 1938.
12 Section 3(3), ibid.
13 Section 3(2), ibid.
14 Section 67, The Factories Act, 1948.
15 Section 2(m), ibid.
16 Section 68, ibid.
17 Section 71(i)(6), ibid.
18 Act No.35 of 1952.
19 Section 2(j), ibid.
20 Child means a person who has not completed 15 years.
21 Section 45(i), ibid.
22 Section 40(i), ibid.
23 Section 41 (i), ibid.
24 The Apprentices Act, 1961, Preamble.
25 Section 4(i), ibid.
26 The National Commission on Labour, 1969, The Committee on Child Labour, 1979,
the Gurupadswamy Committee on Child Labour 1976 and the Mehta Committee, 1984.
27 Available at http://indiacode.nic.in/incodis/whatsnew/Infant_Milk.htm
(visited on February 25, 2018)
28 Available at http://www.advocatekhoj.com/library/bareacts/prenataldiagnostic/
(visited on February 25, 2018)
29Available at https://socialissuesindia.wordpress.com/2010/07/15/salient-features-of-the-right-to-education-act-2009/
(visited on February 25, 2018)
30 Available at http://haqcrc.org/child-rights/indian-laws-policies/ visited on
(visited on February 25, 2018)
31 Available at http://childlineindia.org.in/child-protection-child-rights-india.htm
visited on (visited on February 26, 2018)
32 Malik & Raval, Law and Social Transformation 203 (Allahabad Law Agency, 3rd
33 Ishwara Bhat, Law and Social Transformation 192(Eastern book company, 1st edn.,2009)
34 Available at https://labour.gov.in/childlabour/child-labour-policies visited
on (visited on February 26, 2018)
35 AIR 1997 SC 699
36 AIR 1984 SC 802
37 AIR 1993 SC 2178
38 AIR 1992 SC 1858 39 AIR 1990 SC 1412 40 AIR 1997 SC 3021
39 AIR 2002 SC 2112 42 AIR 1983 SC 328 43 AIR 1984 SC 1099 44 AIR 1998 SC 3164
45 AIR 1984 SC 177
40 Available at http://indiaholic.blogspot.in/2010/11/conclusion.html visited on
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