Children are the priceless assets of mankind. They must be spruced from a
young age. They take over from elders, the responsibilities of developing,
maintaining, and transmitting civilization and facts and features of
civilization, culture, humanity, personality, social, ethical, and aesthetic
values, and norms of a society.
They are the future. Thus, the welfare and protection of children are of utmost
need not only for the children but also for a better and well-developed
The role of the judiciary to provide justice to juveniles is crucial. Juvenile
justice is a legal framework that defines justice for juveniles under the legal
system of India. The system gives special treatment and protection to juvenile
delinquency. At present juvenile crimes is increasing and thus is giving rise to
the question of whether juveniles or children should be tried as adults. The
issue needs to be focused upon.
The government, in this regard, has laid various
legislations and rules along with several conventions at the global level. The
universal concern for the well-being and security of children began in 1924 with
the declaration on The Rights of the Child, the first convention of the
League of Nations, adopted by Geneva.
Several children are subjected to victims of sexual abuse, abduction, ruthless
beating, drug addiction, mental and physical abuse, trafficking, exposure to
several viruses and diseases and have a life with no future scope. Pamela
Shifman, Associate Director of Equality Now
a U.S Based International Human
Rights Organisation, said at a Discussion on Initiatives against Trafficking in
Women and Children' organised at American Centre, Mumbai that:
The 21st century
brings with it some of the dark realities of the last century concerning the
commercial sexual exploitation of children. Children worldwide are deprived of
their human rights, dignity and childhood through child prostitution, child
pornography and other forms of exploitation.
Considering the above-named facts, the General Assembly on 20th November 1989
adopted the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) which
came into force on 2nd September 1990. On 11th December 1992, India added the
Convention. The UNCRC outlines the essential ingredients of human rights that
ought to be followed.
Broad classifications are made that covers all civil,
economic, social, and cultural rights of each child, namely:
Right to Survival: Right to born; Right to minimum standards
of food, shelter, and clothing; Right to live with dignity; Right to health
care, to safe drinking water, nutritious food, a clean and safe environment, and
information to help them stay healthy.
Right to Protection: Right to be protected from all kinds of
violence; Right to be protected from neglect; Right to be protected from
physical and sexual assault; Right to be protected from dangerous drugs; Right
Right to Freedom of Opinion: Right to freedom of expression;
Right to freedom of association; Right to information; Right to participate in
any decision making that involves him/her directly or indirectly; Right to
Right to Education: Right to learn, Right to relax and play;
Right to all or any sorts of development:emotional, mental, and physical.
Adding to the Convention, an International Criminal Court has been established
on 17th July 1998 to safeguard the interests of women and children. One of the
enshrined principles of UNCRC provides the right to identity and family to a
The intensive mobilisation of acts due to the impact of the Convention has
improved the lives of youngsters around the world. The addition of the Right to
Education Act (RTE) accelerated the method of improvement of the lives of
youngsters leading to the expansion of educational opportunities around the
world. India enacted RTE in August 2009. It states that education is a
fundamental right of every child who is between 6 and 14years of age. No child
ought to be held back, expelled, or is needed to pass a board examination till
the completion of education.
Also, a provision has been created to bring up dropouts equivalent to their
contemporary students. Children across the globe fail to complete their
education because they do not have the means to buy schooling. They face
discrimination, violence or are bullied or earning becomes the priority than
education to sustain their lives.
The Constitution of India binds with Articles that are directly related to child
rights, they are:
- Article 15 (3):
Requires the state to form special provisions for youngsters
- Article 21-A:
provides free and compulsory education to all or
any children of the age 6:14 years as determined by state law.
- Article 23 prohibits the trafficking of citizenry including children.
- Article 24 mandates that no child below 14 years can add any hazardous
occupation or industry.
Directive Principles of State Policy that are related to child rights are:
The Indian Penal Code (IPC), 1860
- Article 39(a) & (f) direct that the state policies are directed towards
securing the tender age of youngsters.
- Article 45 states that the state shall endeavour to supply
infancy care and education for all children until they complete the age of six
- Article 51-A says that it shall be the elemental duty of the parent and
guardian to supply opportunities for education to his child or because the
case could also be, ward between the age of six and fourteen.
, section 82, states that no child below the
age of seven would be held criminally responsible for an act as he is not
capable of understanding the frequency or the consequences of an action. Section
83 provides for children of age up to 12 years with mental disability relief
from criminal responsibilities. Concerning protection against kidnapping,
abduction, and related offences the given age is 16 for boys and 18 for girls.
To give sexual consent, a girl must be of 16 years, unless she is married, in
which case the prescribed age is no less than 15.
The Prohibition Of Child Marriage Act, 2006
, came in effect from 1 November
2007, states the age of marriage 21 for boys and 18 for girls.
The Juvenile Justice (Care And Protection) Act, 2000
is enacted as human rights
legislation in all states uniformly. The act repeals the entire children' s act
enacted by stated individually. The act deals with Juvenile in conflict with
, defined under section 2(1) and juvenile in need of care and protection
defined under section 2(d). Section 2(k) of the Act defines child
person who has not attained the age of 18 years of age. Juvenile justice aims to
segregate them from adults, according to their treatment as per their age and
legal status, and reform and rehabilitate prisoners.
In the case Sheela Barse v.
Union of India
, Sheela Barse a social worker took u case of helpless children
below the age of 16 years detained illegally in jails. The issue of the case was
whether by disallowing interview of prisoners, the fundamental rights of the
petitioners (Sheela Barse and others) as stated under Article 19(1)(a) and
Article 21 of the Indian Constitution were infringed by the authorities and
whether an uncontrolled interview of prisoners was permissible as contended by
the petitioner. The apex court of India held that public access should be
granted to the prisoners as per the fundamental rights stated in Article 21 of
the Indian Constitution.
The interviews become necessary for correct information
regarding prison and its conditions. The interviews would be cross-checked with
competent authorities to prevent the dissemination of wrong information.
Finally, the court held that the petitioner is liberal to make an application
for interview of prisoners to prescribed authority and once such an application
is made, it shall be restraint consequently by the jail authorities and subject
to public order, decency, and morality.
In the case Sheela Barse v. Secretary
Children's Aid Society
, the appellant filed a writ petition in the Bombay High
Court. The appellant stated that children at the aforesaid observation home were
forced to work without remuneration and were indulged in hazardous employment.
The issues raised were whether or not Children's Aid Society fell within the
ambit of the expression the state
according to Article 12 of the Indian
Constitution and whether the employment of children in the Observation Homes is
The Supreme Court held that the Children' s Aid Society fell within
the expression of the State as stated in Article 12 of the Indian Constitution
and employment of children in the Observation homes without remuneration is not
illegal per se. The act ensures protection of the child's rights throughout the
process of arresting the child, inquiry, aftercare and rehabilitation. It avails
legal aid and a qualified interpreter or translator throughout proceedings.
act's objective is to amend laws and consolidate children in conflict with the
law, and children in need of protection and care by providing proper assistance,
legal aid, protection and treatment by catering for their developmental needs.
The Child Labour (Prohibition And Regulation) Act, 1986
defines a child to be a
person of age less than 14 years. The same age limit to work is stated in the
Motor Transport Workers Act, 1962 and the Beedi and Cigar Workers (Conditions
of Employment) Act, 1996. Whereas the FACTORIES ACT, 1948 and PLANTATION LABOUR
ACT, 1951 defines a child to be less than 15 years of age and an adolescent who
has completed the age of 15 but not 18.
Factories Act allows adolescents to work
in factories, but not more than half a day provided they are medically fit. The
aim is to eradicate abuse of children in any form of employment and prevent them
from engaging in hazardous employment.
In the case MC Mehta v State of Tamil Nadu
, the main issue was to provide effective alternative means to curb the
employment of children in hazardous jobs along with issues related to education,
growth, and development of children. The supreme court stated that children
should not be employed in hazardous jobs and the manufacturing of fireworks or
matchboxes as there is a risk to their life. Steps are required to be taken to
monitor and boost the quality of life of children.
The Protection Of Children From Sexual Offences Act (POCSO), 2012
children (male and female) from any kind of sexual abuse, offences,
exploitations, and harassment. Special courts, under the act, are established,
that deal with such cases without revealing the identity of the child. The act
subsumes friendly procedures to approach children such as recording statements
of the child at his/her residence, or any place preferred by the child.
police officer is preferred for recording statements. The officer should be
civil and not in uniform. No child is to be detained at a police station at
night. Medical examination of the child would be conducted only in the presence
of a parent or person in whom the child has trust. Frequent breaks for the child
while trial and should not be called repeatedly for testification. No aggressive
questions or character assassination.
A sapling must have good soil to grow strong. Infertile soil will not bring
forth splendid fruit. The judiciary has always made concrete efforts to improve
and safeguard the conditions of children. It has directed the states that they
must create such an environment where the child workers can have opportunities
to grow and develop in a healthy and friendly environment with full consensus of
the mandate of the Indian Constitution.
The above-mentioned facts show the
activism of the judiciary and various types of exploitation of children.
Despite all legal frameworks, evil against children such as child marriage,
child prostitution, child labour prevails because of poverty, illiteracy, lack
and reformative theory. Fear of consequences against such practice needs to be
instilled in minds of people. A national fund should be created to ensure
juvenile justice. Every case where children are should have legal counsel and
certain provisions of the law must be amended to eliminate the penal nature to
make it fair legislation.
Award Winning Article Is Written By: Ms.Monisha Roy
Authentication No: NV131267616003-08-1121