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Different Acts in Indian Constitution

Posted by Admin on August 21, 2014 | Comment

Given the diversity of issues that India has been facing, it was important to formulate constitutional laws that would help the executive and the judiciary in tackling them. Different Acts were passed by Parliament not only to control crime but to enforce discipline in various sectors of our democratic society. While some Acts were given more teeth through a series of amendments, others continue to be marred due to poor or ineffective implementation.

Different Acts in Indian Constitution

Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act

Among several constitutional protections and laws, the Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act is one that prohibits the employment of children who are under 14 years. The main objective of this Act is to prevent forced engagements of children in hazardous occupations. Such occupations are identified by the law and the list has already been expanded twice.

According to the Act, children are prohibited from engaging with any sector dealing with automobile repairs, fireworks manufacturing, cinder picking, oil expelling and similar dangerous occupations. The Child Labour Technical Advisory Committee is often set up on an ad hoc basis to advise the government in this matter and add to the list of hazardous occupations.

The Child Labour Act clearly states that no child shall be allowed to work for more than three hours before he has had an interval for rest. Moreover, a child must not be permitted to work between 7 pm and 8 am. Making a child work overtime is illegal. The Act makes it compulsory for the owner of an establishment to maintain a register in regard to the number of children employed in that establishment

Violations of Child Labour Act are punishable with no less than three months of imprisonment. The violator may be penalised with a minimum of ten thousand rupees and the term for imprisonment may extend to one year.

Juvenile Justice Act

The Juvenile Justice Act is considered an important legal framework for meting out juvenile justice in the country. The law not only provides a special framework for prevention and treatment of juvenile crime, but also gives a new approach towards “protection, treatment and rehabilitation of children in the purview of the juvenile justice system.”

The earlier Juvenile Justice Act of 1986 was repealed after India signed and ratified the UN Child Rights Convention 1989 in the year 1992. This law was further amended in 2006 and 2010. The government is planning further amendments and the existing legislation is being reviewed by the committee set up by the Ministry of Women and Child Development.

Although the Act is considered to be “extremely progressive”, yet its implementation in judicial proceedings remains a matter of serious concern. The Conference of Chief Justices of India and several High Courts have established “Juvenile Justice Committees” to supervise and monitor implementation of Juvenile Justice Act in their jurisdiction.

The Delhi gang rape incident in 2012 raised a popular demand for amending this law and to allow harsher punishments to children involved in heinous crimes. It is only recently that the government has introduced a bill in the Lok Sabha to amend the Act. If the bill is passed, it will ensure that an offender above the age of 16 years and below 18 years will be tried as an adult and be given the maximum punishment.

Child Marriage Restraint Act

The Child Marriage Restraint Act came into force on 1 April, 1930. It defines a child marriage and has set the minimum age of marriage for men as 21, and women as 18. As the name suggests, this Act restrains the “solemnisation of child marriage.” Also known as the Sarda Act, it was amended in 1940 and 1978 in order to raise the age eligibility for both male and female children.

The Act clearly states the punishment to be meted out to the perpetrators of child marriage. The punishment for anyone (especially parents/guardian) who directed a child marriage ceremony is imprisonment of up to three months and a possible fine.  When a minor male marries a minor female, it leads to imprisonment of up to 15 days and a fine of Rs 1,000. However, the punishment for an adult male marrying a minor female is imprisonment of up to three months and a possible fine.

Only the Metropolitan Magistrate or a “Judicial Magistrate of the first class” shall be considered eligible for taking up cases of child marriages and any related offence under this Act.

Medical Termination of Pregnancy (MTP) Act

The Medical Termination of Pregnancy (MTP) Act came into effect in 1972 with the objective of reducing cases of illegal abortion that were leading to high rate of maternal mortality. It provides for the termination of certain pregnancies by registered medical practitioners. The Act was amended in 1975 and 2002.

The MTP Act clearly states under which conditions a pregnancy can be ended or aborted. It also mentions the persons who are qualified to conduct the abortion and the place of implementation.

According to MTP Act, it’s not illegal to terminate pregnancies not exceeding 12 weeks. In case of pregnancies exceeding 12 weeks but less than 20 weeks, termination can happen only after due consultation with two doctors. The Act makes provision for termination of pregnancy under special circumstances which include pregnancies in unmarried girls under the age of 18 and pregnancies in women whose physical/mental health is at risk due to the pregnancy.

The Central Government may include new provisions under MTP act by notification in the Official Gazette. Any rule the government makes needs to be tabled before and by Parliament. The rule might also come into effect in modified form after a unanimous decision from both the houses.

Commission for Protection of Child Rights Act

The Act lays out the roadmap for establishment of National Commission and State Commissions for Protection of Child Rights as well as the Children’s Courts to ensure speedy trial of offences against children.

The Act came into force as direct outcome of India acceding to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) in 1992. The treaty made it incumbent upon our government to take necessary steps to protect children’s rights as enlisted in the Convention. The government felt the need to enact a law relating to children to implement the policies adopted in this regard.

The National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) was established in March 2007 as a statutory body under this Act. The commission was set up to “protect, promote and defend” child rights in the country.