Author: Rajat Shandilya (Faculty of Law, Aligarh Muslim University)

INTRODUCTION: A nation’s progress depends upon various parameters. Most important one is the human resource of a country as the ultimate mechanism and the dynamics of a nation depend upon human resources of that country, and children any youth form the majority of human resource for tomorrow. Children are loved by everyone and it is often said that‘Children are the representatives of God on Earth.” “There is no trust more sacred than the one the one holds with children. There is no duty more important than ensuring that their rights are respected, that their welfare is protected, that their lives are free from fear and want and they can grow up in peace.” – Kofi Annan. Like any adult of the society, these ‘bright minds’ of tomorrow also have the right to be protected against any form of abuse, exploitation, ill treatment or violence which is inflicted upon them. It is very well acknowledged fact that millions of children are been exploited and abused in one form or the other in the India and internationally.

STATISTICAL DATA OVER CHILD ABUSE AND CHILD RELATED CRIMES IN INDIA: In India, according to the data released by National Crime Records Bureau in the year 2018, every day as many as 109 children were sexually abused. This number was 22% more than the year 2017. According to the official stats released by NCRB, it can be seen that 32,608, cases were filed in the year 2017. In the immediate next year the number of total cases increased to 39,827, which were reported under the POCSO Act 2012. In total, there were around 21,605 cases of child rapes in India out of which 21,401 were girls and 204 were boys. The most number of child rapes were observed to take place in Maharashtra and the number of cases stood at 2832, followed by Uttar Pradesh and Tamil Nadu with a total number of cases to be at 2023 and 1457 respectively. The total numbers of cases of crimes against children have increases manifolds. In just a span of a decade, the cases have increased to as many as six times from the period of 2008-2018. The total numbers of recorded cases in the year of 2008 were as many as 22,500 and this number sharply increased from 22, 500 to 1,41,764 in the year 2018. To solve various problems that come in the growth and development of children are dealt with many legislations in India. The courts have also, repeatedly interpreted various child centred laws for the welfare of the children. The constitution of India itself provides various provisions for the safeguarding of the rights of children.

CONSTITUTIONAL PROVISIONS REGARDING CHILD RIGHTS: The following are the Constitutional Rights conferred to every child of India: The right to free and compulsory elementary education for every child in the age group ranging from 6 to 14 years under Article 21A of the Constitution. Children are also ensured protection from harmful or hazardous employment before they attain the age of 14 years. The constitution of India has been very concerned about the safeguarding of children from various evils; Also Article 39(e) ensures that no child shall be forced to enter into any economic activity or any occupation, which is not suitable for the child in accordance to his/her, age and physical capabilities. Further to provide more strength to the cause child rights, article 39(f) deals with regard of providing equal opportunities and facilities for the development of children in a holistic and healthy way. The issue of ‘CHILD ABUSE AND EXPLOITATION’ is a matter of international concern and hence various conventions and laws have been passed to curb this issue to the maximum limit, which are as follows: THE UN CONVENTION ON RIGHTS OF CHILD 1992: The United Nations Convention on Rights of Child has provided even more support to the cause of Protection of child rights. The main provisions of the UNCRC are as follows: UNCRC’s applicability is equally over all the boys and girls worldwide up to the age of 18 years regardless of any ground. The underlying principle behind this Convention is to serve “The best interest of the child, no discrimination on any ground, and respect for the views of child.” It also emphasizes the need to create an environment that is useful for the care and development of a child and simultaneously it states the importance and role of a family in the development of a child. According to this convention, the most relevant point is that the convention makes it mandatory for the states to respect, support and ensure that children get a fair and reasonable place in the society.

POSITION UNDER IPC: The status of provisions relating to the protection of children’s rights under Indian Penal Code 1860 is as follows: SECTION 83: This section states that nothing is to be considered as an offence, committed by a child over 7 years of age and under 12 years of age who has not attained the required level of maturity in order to be able to recognize the nature of the act committed. SECTION 292 AND 293: This section is concerned with making offence related to obscenity as punishable offence and is make punishable for a period of upto 3 years or fine of upto Rs. 2000. SECTION 305: It makes abetting a suicide of a minor a punishable offence and the punishment shall be imprisonment which may be extend to ten years and fine too is imposed.. SECTION317: This provision makes abandonment of a child or on the exposure of a child to abandonment by any parent or a person having the care of such child, a punishable with imprisonment upto 7 years, or with fine, or with both. SECTION 361: This section makes kidnapping an offence if a boy then 16 years of age and 18 years in a girl’s case. SECTION 363A: This section makes kidnapping or disfiguring or disabling any child with an objective of using him/her for begging an offence and shall be punished with imprisonment of upto to seven years, and shall also be liable for fine. SECTION 369: It constitutes an offense if a person kidnaps a child below the age of 10 years in order to steal from it and shall be punished with imprisonment upto 7 years and with fine. SECTION 372 AND 373: These sections make child prostitution a punishable offence with imprisonment, which may be extended to 10 years and shall liable to fine. Section 375: This section defines the offence of rape and subsequently SECTIONS 376 AND 376(C) establishes the appropriate punishment for the offence i.e. rigorous imprisonment not less than 7 years and which can be extended to life imprisonment along with fine. SPECIFIC LEGISLATIONS IMPLEMENTED WITH A VIEW OF SAFEGUARDING THE CHILDREN’S RIGHTS:

CHILD MARRIAGE RESTRAINT ACT 1929: This act imposes a restriction on the child marriage until the individual reaches the least or minimum age of maturity. The minimum age of marriage is fixed to be 18 in case of girls and 21 in case of boys. IMMORAL TRAFFIC (PREVENTION) ACT 1956: The main aim of the legislation is to protect children from the trap of prostitution.This act was later amended in the year 1986.

PROBATION OF OFFENDERS ACT, 1958: This Act, supported by The JJ ACT 2000, strives to the point that no one under the age of 21 years faces imprisonment. NATIONAL POLICY FOR CHILDREN, 1974: The NPC is the country’s first exclusive formal written policy on the protection of children’s rights. The key objectives of this policy were the proper application of the constitutional rights and those given under the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC). JUVENILE JUSTICE ACT 2000: It is one of the most crucial action for the children who are in a requirement ofprotection. This also requires the states to provide the ‘child offender’ with free legal assistance. This is also the ‘main Act’ and is introduced to resolve the issues of conflict in the matters where a child is involved. PROTECTION OF CHILDREN FROM SEXUAL OFFENCES ACT, 2012(POCSO): The primary aim of this Act is to punish the person who is guilty of committing a crime of sexual nature with a minor. It also lays down certain provisions to be followed during the trial of any issue under the purview of the POCSO Act. CONCLUSION: Children are important human resources for the country. The children’s issues need to be viewed in their entirety, not through the narrow set of education, health, child labour, child abuse, etc. However, with the presence of governmental concern and appreciation of children's rights, a substantial number of children in India live well with the requirements set by the Constitution, as well as the values of national and international law however constant need of monitoring and revision in laws are required to reach at their actual interest and desires and also there is a need for better ground implementation of various laws. REFERENCES: 1. Prof. S.N Mishra, Indian Penal Code, Central Law Publication, Allahabad, 21st Edition, 2018. 2. The Constitution of India 3. United Nations Convention on Rights of Child 1992 4. Press Trust of India, 22% Jump In Cases of child Sexual Abuse In 2018,(Updated: January 12, 2020), 11:54 IST 5.

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