Article 45 of Indian Constitution required the State to make provision within ten years for free and compulsory education for all children until they complete the age of 14 years. The object was to abolish illiteracy from the country.
Article 45– Provision for free and compulsory education for children 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.
In a landmark judgment in Unni Krishnan v State of A.P, the Supreme Court has held that the “Right to education” upto the age of 14 years is a fundamental right within the meaning of Article 21 of the Constitution, but thereafter the obligation of the State to provide education is subject to the limits of its economic capacity. “The right to education allows directly from right to life”, the Court-declared.
The Constitution ( 86th Amendment) Act, 2002.-The Constitution (86th Amendment) Act, 2002 has substituted a new article for Article 45 of Indian Constitution, which provides that “the State shall endeavour to provide early childhood care and education for all children until they complete the age of six years“.
This has been necessitated as a result of making the right to education of children up to the 14 years of age a fundamental right. The marginal heading of the new Article will be entitled as “provision for early childhood care and education to children below the age of six years”.
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Originally this Article 45 of Indian Constitution directed the State to take steps for free and compulsory education for all children upto the age of 14 years. Obviously children means children of school-going age and not infants in arms.
There was no particular significance in choosing the age of 14 years as the limit at which the obligation of the State for free and compulsory education to cease.
But most of the countries have fixed that age for free and compulsory education. “Article 45 of Indian Constitution”, no doubt, required the State to provide free and compulsory education for all children but there was nothing to prevent the State from discharging that solemn obligation through government aided schools. It did not require that obligation to be discharged at the expense of minority communities.
The Constitution had put a time-limit, i.e. 25 January 1960, within which the goal set forth in the article was to be achieved. Unfortunately the goal continues to remain very far from the ground realities. In 1993, the court read this article into Article 21 and in effect converted it into a fundamental right.
The directive in Article 45 has not been fully implemented as yet although more than 50 years have elapsed since the independence. Employment of child labour in hazardous industries, like making of fireworks, is rampant.
As the Supreme Court has pointed out in M.C. Mehta v. State of Tamil Nadu: the stark reality is that in our country like many others, children are an exploited lot. Child labour is a big problem and has remained intractable, even after about 50 years of our having become independent, despite various legislative enactments…prohibiting employment of a child in a number of occupations and avocations.”
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BIBLIOGRAPHY- V.N SUKHLA’S CONSTITUTION OF INDIA