Though the concept of the rights of the child was not very lucid at the time of making of the Constitution, it was envisioned that children are the assets of the country. They need protection and provisions to develop in complete beings capable to steer the nation.
The Indian Constitution contains certain provisions specifically aimed for protection, development and welfare of children. Article 24 prohibits the employment of children in any factory or mine or in any other hazardous occupation. Art. 39 (e) & (f) in DPSP lay down that the state shall direct its policy in such a manner that the tender age of the children is not abused and children are given opportunities and facilities to develop in a healthy manner and the childhood is protected against exploitation and against moral and material abandonment. Art. 21 A (vide 86th Amendment) provide the fundamental right to primary education to the children in the age group of 6-14 years. Art. 45 in the DPSP creates provision for the early childhood care and education of children.
Prior to the Fifth Five Year Plan, the government’s focus was on the child welfare through the promotion of basic minimum services for children. It led to the adoption of National Policy for children in the 1974. The 5th Five Year Plan saw the launch of ICDS in 1975.
The ICDS was gradually expanded to cover more districts. Finally in the 9th FYP (1997-2002) the government of India declared its commitment for every child. However, there has been very little corresponding increase in the government allocation and spending on children. The Haque Centre for Child Rights indicated that highest percentage spent in any single year in the Union Budget was 1.8 in 1997-98. It declined to 1.6 in 1998-99.
There are a host of other legislations, which guarantee to a substantial extent the rights and entitlements as provided in the Constitution and in the UN CRC.
– The Child Marriage Restraint Act, 1929
– The Children (Pledging of Labour) Act, 1933
– The Factories Act, 1948
– The Apprentices Act, 1961
– The Women’s and Children’s Institutions (Licensing) Act, 1956
– The Mine’s Amendment Act, 1983
– The Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act, 1986
– The Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act, 1986
– The Guardian and Wards Act, 1890
– The Hindu Minority and Guardianship Act, 1956
– The Hindu Adoption and Maintenance Act, 1956
– The Orphanages and Other Charitable Homes (Supervision And Control) Act, 1960
– The Probation of Offenders Act, 1958
– The Reformatory Schools Act, 1897
– The Young Persons Harmful Publications Act, 1956
– The Infant Milks Substitutes, Feeding Bottles and Infant Foods (Regulation of Production, Supply and Distribution Act, 1992
– The Prenatal Diagnostic Technique (Regulation, Prevention and Misuse) Act, 1994
– The Persons With Disabilities (Equal Opportunities, Protection of Rights and Full Participation) Act, 1995
– The Juvenile Justice Act, 2000
(Source: India Country Report to the UN CRC, 1997)