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ROLE OF JUDICIARY IN PROTECTING CHILD RIGHTS

Hitesh Pachauri and Vernit Tripathi, 3rd Year, New Law College, Bharati Vidyapeeth Deemed to be University, Pune

INTRODUCTION

“CHILDHOOD SHOULD BE CAREFREE, PLAYING IN SUN; NOT LIVING A NIGHTMARE IN THE DARKNESS OF SOUL”-DAVE PELZER

The exploitation of the child starts from the beginning of human civilization but after the introduction of Industrialization, the exploitation of children increased since then the condition of the child is not too great in our country.

Children are the foundation of society. It is a natural process that each member of the society at some point in their life is a child, that's why child rights play a significant role in the protection of society. A country cannot make an astounding growth if its children are in a worsened condition. In a country like India where beaucoup rights are provided by the constitution like Article-14 i.e Right to equality[1], Article – 24 Protection of children from hazardous activities[2], and many more, various governmental and non-governmental organizations are working too in the interest of the children.

But the question is does all policies by government, precedents by the courts, and works by the governmental and non – governmental organization are properly implemented?

If any of our readers say affirmative about this question then we have to ask ourselves repeatedly that why the cases of child abuse are still happening, why child labours are still found and what can we do on our part to make a country where child rights are given utmost importance and how we can take the help of the Judiciary which is also called the guardian of the rights and tackle this problem.


REASON OF CHILD EXPLOITATION

It is unimaginable that every year about millions of children are being exploited in various ways whether in the form of sexual exploitation, trafficking of a child, early marriage, migration, or child labour. All this happens only because of economic or sexual purposes.

The above-mentioned reasons are the basic reasons for child exploitation but as we know our society changes from time to time due to the reasons like growth in technology and various other reasons too. Like in today's era Internet is one of the biggest and most important reasons in terms of sexual exploitation of the child.

According to the data of the International Labour Organisation, the total child population in India in the age group of 5-14 years is 259.6 million of these 10.1 million are workers either as the main worker in hazardous.


ROLE OF JUDICIARY IN PREVENTION CHILD EXPLOITATION

Since Independence, the judiciary has taken various steps to eliminate the problem of child exploitation with the help of succinct implementation of various laws, precedents, proper amendments in old laws, and giving various directions in the appropriate authority so, as to reduce the problem of Child exploitation.

The Judiciary has tried to cover most of the aspects which come under its jurisdiction like in the case of GAURAV JAIN V. UNION OF INDIA[3] The Supreme Court has held that the child of prostitutes has the right to equality of opportunity, dignity, care, protection, and rehabilitation to be part of the mainstream of social life without any pre-stigma attached to them.


PAST SCENARIO

In the past, the role of the judiciary for child rights protection was very low as compared to the present scenario. The increase in the role of the judiciary started from the year 1982 till present, because this is the time period in which we can see that various landmark judgments were given by the Courts especially the Supreme Court has played a very important role in this time period.

In the past i.e pre – Independence era the problems like child marriage and Child labour exists but after the Industrial Revolution, there was a major increase in the cases of child exploitation because, machines do not need great physical strength, so the child was the best suitable option to do more works in the fewer wages and because of these heavy workloads they are not able to complete their basic qualification which ultimately leads to their poor holistic development .


PRESENT SCENARIO

Judicial Institutions have played a crucial role not only in fixing the issue of child protection but also in expanding laws to counter various problems related to child protection arising in the future too.

If we talk about present scenarios related to child protection we can say that the judiciary and government have worked a lot to eliminate this evil as there are around 300 statutory provisions related to the elimination of child exploitation.

At present, the judiciary has passed many judgments too for the protection of child rights, which also indicates the positive role of the judiciary in the issue of child exploitation.

In the early case of PEOPLES UNION FOR DEMOCRATIC RIGHTS (PUDR) V. UNION OF INDIA, 1982[4] commonly known as the Asian worker's case, the judiciary has shed light on the issue that no children who are above 14 are not allowed to do hazardous work. In this particular case, construction activity was termed as a hazardous activity.

In M.C MEHTA V. STATE OF TAMIL NADU AND OTHERS[5] the judiciary has shed light on the concept of “Child labour rehabilitation cum welfare –fund”

In BANDHUA MUKTI MORCHA V. UNION OF INDIA[6], the Supreme Court has passed an order relating to forced employment of children.

There are several occasions in which courts have passed various directions to various authorities so that there can be healthy development of a child. The precedents and works by the judiciary will play a great role to counter future conflicts related to child-exploitation


ROLE OF COMMON MAN IN PROTECTION OF CHILD RIGHTS THROUGH JUDICIARY

It is a well-known fact that the judiciary has a wide range of power but we are also aware that in a country that has a population of more than 136 crores it is impossible to serve justice to every individual.

So it is the duty of every individual to take a step forward in eliminating the evil of child exploitation. We can take inspiration from the various social workers like Kailash Satyarthi, Kirti Bharti, and many more who work for child rights and help to eliminate these social evils.


HOW A COMMON MAN CAN APPROACH THE COURT

A common man can take the benefit of PIL (Public Interest Litigation) a legal tool invented by the Indian Judiciary for giving a voice to vast masses who would otherwise have not been able to access justice because of ignorance, incapacity, and the way the system works.

There are many NGOs too who work to protect child rights as they file various PILS in court. They also work towards rehabilitating the child and some NGOs work for the education and health of children.

We are well aware that child rights protection helps in the growth of society and the growth of society ultimately leads to the growth of the children.


CONCLUSION

It is a high time that child rights need to be protected at any cost otherwise, the future of a country will be at peril. At present we can see that education is a very important tool for every individual to grow in society and there are many instances in which this important right which is provided by the constitution is violated. so, it is the duty of the courts, government, and every individual of the society that these basic rights must be provided to a child.

From the brief discussion of the cases which we have discussed in our article, we can imply that the courts have made praiseworthy directions and suggestions in many instances to protect the basic rights of the child but unfortunately these suggestions and implementation are not properly being executed by the government for the protection of child rights.

It is the need of the hour that not only there should be stricter provisions relating to child rights but there should be stricter implementation too because stricter laws without stricter implementation are like a man without knowledge.

“THE ONLY REASON WHY CHILD EXPLOITATION IS ALIVE TODAY, IS BECAUSE WE AS ADULTS FAIL OUR CHILDREN WHEN WE FAIL TOLISTEN TO THEM. LISTEN TO ACHILD TODAY !”- HEATHER McCLANE

References

[1] Article-14 Right to equality ( Page no. 83, JN Pandey , Fifty-sixth Edition) [2] Article-24 Prohibition of employment of children in factories ( Page no. 406, JN Pandey , Fifty – six Edition) [3] Gaurav Jain V. Union of India , MANU/SC/0789/1997 [4] PUDR V. Union of India , MANU/SC/0038/1982. [5] M.C Mehta V. State of Tamil Nadu and others, MANU/SC/0169/1997 [6] Bandhua Mukti Morcha V. Union of India, MANU/SC/0051/1983

(Disclaimer- The views expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views or policies of Child Rights Centre.)

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