New Delhi: The Law Commission of India on Wednesday recommended amending the Constitution to ensure that children below six years of age are protected from "all forms" of neglect, harm and exploitation.
The Commission also recommended that their right to basic care and assistance be made an enforceable right, while noting that the current legal framework in India does not place enough emphasis on the rights of young children.
It said that the early childhood is the phase of "maximum vulnerability" and deprivation can seriously impact a child's health and learning potential.
The Commission, in its report submitted to the Law Ministry today, also recommended amendments to the Right to Education Act, Maternity Benefit Act and creation of a statutory authority for early childhood development to ensure "proper emphasis" on the promotion of early childhood development.
The report of the Commission, whose term is ending on August 31, is the result of demands made by some representatives of Alliance for Right to Early Childhood Care & Development and Mobile Creches, who highlighted the issue relating to the rights of children under the age of six years.
The commission said that the protection of early childhood development in India depends on policies and schemes created and run by the central and state governments.
"The Commission is of the view that the Constitutional framework of Fundamental Rights and Directive Principles should reflect the special status and needs of children below six years.
"Further, the Commission believes that statutory backing should be given to the existing schemes and policies in order to create legal entitlements in favour of children," said the report.
The law panel suggested that as per the recommendation of the National Commission for Review of Constitution, a new Article, 24A, be inserted to Part III of the Constitution to ensure that the child's right to basic care and assistance becomes an enforceable right.
"The Article should read as follows: '24A. Every child shall have the right to care and assistance in basic needs and protection from all forms of neglect, harm and exploitation'," the report said.