Children are easy victims of exploitation as they are soft in body and mind. For this reason, many provisions have been made in the law of the country for their protection. What are these provisions, and how to use them:
Legal rights of children: Many provisions have been made in the law to protect children:
Prohibition On Wages
Under 14 years of age there is a ban on employing a child. The Act prescribes 18 types of work (Dhaba work, domestic work, shop work, etc.) and 65 types of procedures that children below 14 years of age cannot do. Almost every type of work is included in this list.
Whereas in the rest of the country, the age limit for child labor ban is 14 years, while in Delhi, this limit is 18 years. Accordingly, if maids and servants are seen working in any house below the prescribed age limit, the person who gets the work may have to go behind bars.
In the world, people below 18 years are prohibited from working in hazardous industries like chemicals, mines, explosives, etc.
Those below 18 years cannot be made to work in the mine. Such restriction is mentioned under the MAN Act of 1952.
There is a Child Labor Prohibition and Regulation Act 1986 to prevent children below 14 years of age in selective hazardous work. In cities, the same law is often applied to domestic work at an early age.
It is a crime to make any child work in dangerous conditions or to work as a hostage. Such a ban has been imposed under the Juvenile Justice Care and Protection of Children Act 2000.
Right To Education:
The right to education for children is a fundamental right. Under this, there is a provision under Article 21A of the Constitution that education should be given compulsorily to children of 6 years to 14 years. During the hearing of a case, the Delhi High Court had directed the mother of a child not to take the girl back from school. Withdrawing a child from school is like a crime.
There is a provision of free education for children from 6 to 14 years. Also, it has been said in this law that every private school should fill 25 percent of its seats with children from weaker sections of society and children with disabilities.
Under the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act 2009, such a rule has been made in terms of children’s basic education. If a school does not follow these rules, a complaint can be made against it to the concerned education department. If there is no hearing, a petition can be filed in the High Court.
Abuse In School
If a teacher disturbs a student mentally or physically, disciplinary action should be taken against him/her. There is a provision in the law that according to the service rules, action should be taken against the responsible school staff or teacher. However, it is not considered serious misconduct in the RTE. In such cases, parents can directly complain to the principal or the education department. There is such a provision under the Right to Education Act-17.
Suppose a child is beaten up or harassed in school. In that case, parents can complain to the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) and the state government’s education department, apart from the school administration. A police report can also be lodged. Juvenile Justice Act-23 has made such a provision. If there is a case of serious assault on the child, then the parents can file a case under sections 323 (beating), 324 (causing hurt), 325 (causing grievous hurt) of the IPC.
Any harassment done to children is considered corporal punishment. If children are physically abused in any way, it is corporal punishment. For example, slapping, ear-pulling, etc., come under the purview of corporal punishment. Apart from this, if he is made to stand in a particular position, is made to stand on the bench, is wrongly called, or remarks is made to hurt him, or anything is done which will cause physical and mental harm to the child. In case of damage caused, it will be treated as Corporal Punishment.
If a child’s parents or any family member do not treat them properly or behave violently with them, it can complain to the Child Welfare Committee. Such child welfare committees have been constituted in every district.
Children can file a complaint through call or email. For example, in Delhi, if a child is getting abused by any family member, they can complain by visiting goo. gl/3f9R0d.
Taking cognizance of any complaint, these committees can refer the matter to the Child in Need and Care Committee under the Juvenile Justice Act.
In such cases, the child welfare committee takes care of the child by separating them from the parents. In serious cases, under Section 23 of the JJ Act, imprisonment of 6 months can also be given.
Prevention of physical abuse:
The offense of sexual nature against children below 18 years of age comes under the purview of the POCSO (Protection of Children from Sexual Offenses) Act.
Under this law, both boys and girls below the age of 18 years have been protected. Such cases are heard in special courts, and there is a provision of punishment up to life imprisonment for offenses against children.
Under this Act, children have been protected from offenses like sexual assault, sexual harassment, and pornography. Under this law made in 2012, different punishments are given for different crimes.
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Who can complain?
Anyone can complain about any atrocities on children.
The complainant can keep his/her name secret.
Where can a complaint be made?
Information related to child labor can be given in three ways:
1 – Calling 100 or by going to the police station
2 – By dialing the government’s child helpline 1098
3 – NGOs working for children (eg, helpline of Bachpan Bachao Andolan 011-49211111)
These helplines work days and 24 hours a day.
Who will take action?
There are instructions for the police to take action for any problem with the children.
Even if the complaint is about getting them to do labor, even then, the labor department completes the operation with the help of the police.
Since any exploitation of children has been declared illegal under the IPC and JJ Act, it is the responsibility of the police to present the culprit before the law.
In its judgment dated January 17, 2013, the Supreme Court had directed the police that whenever there is a complaint in such cases, the police must register an FIR and investigate the matter.
To look into the cases related to juveniles, a unit of trained police officers should be formed in every district of the country.
Special police officers handle juvenile cases.
These police officers should be in plain clothes and work closely with the Child Welfare Committee.
How much is the punishment?
Under the Child Labor Act, those who employ children can be imprisoned for one year and fined from 10 thousand to 20 thousand rupees.
Under the JJ Act, there is imprisonment for 3 years for getting work in a dangerous industry, bonded labor.
If the child is under someone’s care and is subjected to mental or physical torture, the guilty can be fined and imprisoned for up to 6 months.