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Child Rights under the Indian Constitution

Childhood is a must to be cherished and preserved. Every child should be given the chance to live their life to fullest and chase their dreams. However, in India, almost every day we come across cases, where children are abandoned and often subjected to inhumane treatments, abuse, and cruelty, and are deprived of their fundamental rights.

Just like adults, every child should have the fundamental freedom and rights to survive, develop, protect, and participate as a social member in every aspect of their life. The Indian constitution recognizes that fundamental child rights are non-negotiable and are essential to the proper development of a child into a responsible future citizen.

Child Rights are basically the inherent rights of all humans under the age of 18, irrespective of sex, race, color, and creed. Every child shall be entitled to equal rights and should be given equal opportunity in the society. The Indian Constitution has ratified the rights of children as per the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC). The Indian Constitution, which was promulgated in the year 1950, encompasses children’s rights similar to other fundamental rights. For instance, the 86th Constitutional Amendment has made Right to Education as a fundamental right for every child. There are so many other Constitutional Guarantees that are entitled to children by the Indian Constitution.

Basically, there are four child rights that every nation confers:

The Right to Survival entails the child’s right to life, health, and nutrition. Children hold the right to standard of living, nutrition, and improved public health (Article 47)

The Right to Development allows each child to explore his/her full potential for education, care, leisure, and recreation. Article 21-A of the Indian Constitution entails right to free and compulsory education to all children (6-14 years of age).

The Right to Protection entails that every child should be nurtured and protected from exploitation, abuse, neglect, and other harmful influences in any form. Children under the age of 14 years have the Right to be protected from being trafficked and forced into bonded labor or hazardous employment (Article 23 & 24)

The Right to Participation means that every child should be given the right to independent expression, information, thought and religion. Children have the right to think independently and have their own beliefs of what they want, and to practice their religion. (Article 14).


Children Rights for Education:

Studies reveal that in India, only 32 percent of children finish their school education age-appropriately. Moreover, there are more than 10 million child laborers in India, aging between 5-14 years, according to Census 2011. Kidnapping and abduction of children are on the rise.Every 8 minutes, one child goes missing elsewhere in India. So, in order to combat crimes against children and to ban child labor, the government has made necessary amendments relating to education and child protection. In India, we, hence, have provisions in the Constitution to provide elementary education as a must for all children in India.

Right to Education Act:

All children have the right to education as per the Constitution of India. The purpose of education is to develop a child’s talents, abilities, and personality and prepare them for the future society.

Right to Education Act (RTE) or the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act, is a Parliamentary Act enacted on 4th August 2009. The act describes the modalities of the free and compulsory education for children aging between 6 and 14 in India under the Article 21 A of the Indian Constitution.

  • According to the RTE Act, education is made a fundamental right of every child.
  • The Act also insists that no child is required to pass a board examination and shall not be held back, expelled from the school until they complete their elementary education.
  • The act requires all private schools to reserve 25 percent of its seats to children based on economic status or caste based reservations.
  • The act prohibits unrecognized schools from practicing and denies all elementary schools from collecting capitation fees or donation in any form. The act also prohibits physical punishment and mental harassment of children in schools. It forbids schools from conducting screening procedures or interviews for the child or parent for providing admission.
  • There are a number of provisions in the act regarding Pupil Teacher Ratios (PTRs), improvement of school infrastructure and faculty, school-working days and more norms and standards to follow.
  • The RTE Act inspects and monitor all neighborhoods to identify children/communities requiring education, and set up the needed facilities for them. Unlike other countries where it is the responsibility of parents to send their children to school; in India, according to the RTE act, it is the responsibility of the government to ensure enrollment, attendance, and completion of elementary education.

Similarly, the Right to Education of persons with disabilities is laid under a separate legislation. The Persons with Disabilities Act entails that all children with disabilities under 18 years of age are entitled to the elementary education.

Overall, the Indian constitution ratifies child rights as the minimum entitlements, encompassing freedom of children as well as their education, welfare, health and nutrition, civil rights, and special protection. Particularly, the RTE act ensures all-round development of the child to build their knowledge, potentiality, and talent through a child centered and child-friendly learning system.