According to international law, a child means every human being below the age of 18 years. This is a universally accepted definition of a child and comes from the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC), an international legal instrument accepted and ratified by most countries. India has always recognised the category of persons below the age of 18 years as distinct legal entity. That is precisely why people can vote or get a driving license or enter into legal contracts only when they attain the age of 18 years. Marriage of a girl below the age of 18 years and a boy below 21 years is restrained under the Child Marriage Restraint Act 1929. Moreover, after ratifying the UNCRC in 1992, India changed its law on juvenile justice to ensure that every person below the age of 18 years, who is in need of care and protection, is entitled to receive it from the State.
WHAT ARE CHILD RIGHTS?
All people under the age of 18 are entitled to the standards and rights guaranteed by the laws that govern our country and the international legal instruments we have accepted by ratifying them.
THE CONSTITUTION OF INDIA:
The Constitution of India guarantees all children certain rights, which have been specially included for them. These include:
Right to free and compulsory elementary education for all children in the 6-14 year age group (Article 21 A).
Right to be protected from any hazardous employment till the age of 14 years.
Right to be protected from being abused and forced by economic necessity to enter occupations unsuited to their age or strength (Article 39(e)).
Right to equal opportunities and facilities to develop in a healthy manner and in conditions of freedom and dignity and guaranteed protection of childhood and youth against exploitation and against moral and material abandonment (Article 39 (f)).
Besides these they also have rights as equal citizens of India, just as any other adult male or female:
Right to equality (Article 14).
Right against discrimination (Article 15).
Right to personal liberty and due process of law (Article 21).
Right to being protected from being trafficked and forced into bonded labour .
Right of weaker sections of the people to be protected from social injustice and all forms of exploitation (Article 46).