The Indian Constitution has certain articles with the primary objective of safeguarding the basic rights of youth. Some of these safeguards are built into the Fundamental Rights and are enforceable in a court of law. Other guarantees are part of the Directive principles of State Policy which cannot be enforced but underlie government policies and programmes.
Below are some of the provisions of the Constitution that have special relevance to youth:
Freedom of education incorporates the right of any person to form a school and the right of parents, their children, or students to be educated at the school of their choice. In some countries enrolment in a public or government managed school system is compulsory and individuals are blocked from founding schools without a license. In principle, anyone could found a school, freedom of education is meant to eliminate any monopoly on education.
Article 23(1) prohibits traffic in human beings and forced labour and thus aims at “recognition and restoration of the dignity of man.”
Article 23(2) of the Constitution, the government should not discriminate the citizens on the grounds of Religion, caste, creed and group.
This Article provides that no child below the age of fourteen years shall be employed to work in any factory or mine or engaged in any other hazardous employment.
This Article provides that if the institution is an educational one and it is wholly maintained by the State funds, religious instruction cannot be provided in such institution.
Provides that if the educational institution has been established under any endowment or trust which requires that religious instruction shall be imparted in such institution, then despite the prohibition in Article 28(1) and despite the fact that the education institution is in fact administered by the State, religious instruction can be imparted in such institution. Article 28(2) thus in no uncertain terms envisages that an educational institution administered by the State and wholly maintained by the State can impart religious instruction.
States that there may be educational institutions imparting religious instruction according to whichever faith and conducting religious worship which can be recognised by the State and which can also receive aid out of State funds. Similarly, Article 28(3) provides that no individual attending any educational institution which may have been recognised by the State or is receiving State aid can be compelled to take part in any religious instruction that may be imparted in such institution or to attend any religious worship that may be conducted in such institution without such person's consent. Implicit in this prohibition is the acknowledgement that the State can recognize and aid an educational institution giving religious instruction or conducting religious worship. In the United States, on the other hand it has been held that State maintained institutions cannot give religious instruction even if such instruction is not compulsory.
Part III Fundamental Rights – Cultural and Educational Rights – Article – 29 (2) is a protection against discrimination on the ground of religion, race, caste or language, and does not in any way come into play where the minority institution prefers students of its choice.
To put it differently, denying admission, even though seats are available on the ground of the applicant’s religion, race, caste or language is prohibited, but preferring students of minority groups does not violate Article 29(2).
“All minorities, whether based on religion or language, shall have the right to establish and administer educational institutions of their choice.”
This Article prevents state discrimination against a minority educational institution.
All citizens of India have equal right to an adequate means to livelihood.
The state shall direct its policy to securing the health and the tender age of children are not abused and that citizens are not forced by economic necessity to enter avocations unsuited to their age or strength.
Childhood and youth are guarded against exploitation and moral and material abandonment.
The State shall, within the limits of its economic capacity and development, make effective provision for securing the right to work, to education and to public assistance in cases of unemployment, old age, sickness and disablement, and in other cases of undeserved want.
The State shall make provision for securing just and humane conditions of work and for maternity relief.
The State shall endeavour to secure for the citizens a uniform civil code throughout the territory of India.
The State shall endeavour to provide, within a period of ten years from the commencement of this Constitution, for free and compulsory education for all children until they complete the age of fourteen years.
Promotion of educational and economic interests of Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and other weaker sections.
The State shall promote with special care the educational and economic interests of the weaker sections of the people, and in particular, of the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes, and shall protect them from social injustice and all forms of exploitation.
It shall be the duty of every citizen of India who is a parent or a guardian to provide opportunities for education to his child or as the case may be ward, between the ages of 6 and 14.
Although Part IV of the constitution refers to fundamental duties, it makes special reference to proper education and socialization of youth. The National Charter of 2004 of the Government of India emphasizes the government’s commitment to children’s rights to survival, development and protection.
The governments at the centre and the states have enacted laws that favour welfare and development of children and youth in the areas of health, education and employment.