The Rights of Children Are Supreme in New Constitution
any other human being, children have needs. They have to eat and dress at all
times. By their nature, children spend a lot of time in school where they have
to pay school fees, buy books and pay for transport to and from school.
have no income, they have to depend on their parents. This is their right. The
parents on the other hand are under a duty to provide for them.
Constitution has made it a Constitutional right for children to be provided for
under Article 53. They have a right to education, free compulsory basic
education, basic nutrition, shelter, health among other rights. Under this
Article, all children have a right to parental care and protection, which
includes equal responsibility of the mother and father to provide for the
child, whether they are married to each other or not. The Constitution does not
define the quality of education, shelter, food etc. This is, however, covered
indirectly under the same article which sets out a blanket principle that says
that the best interest of the child shall be paramount when it comes to matters
of the child. As such the quality will vary from case to case depending on the
income, the status and the ability of the parent.
parents neglect a child, then the child can sue the parents for the enforcement
of these rights either in the constitutional court or the Children’s court. A
mother or father of a neglected child can sue the other parent or spouse to
enforce these rights for and on behalf of the child. Under Section 91 of the
Children’s Act, any parent, guardian or custodian of the child may apply to the
court to determine any matter relating to the maintenance of the child and to
make an order that a specified person make such periodical or lump sum payment
for the maintenance of a child, in this Act referred to as a "maintenance
order," as the court may see fit.
parents usually comply with maintenance orders. However, some parents can
become difficult and refuse to honour the terms of such orders to the detriment
of the child. They refuse to pay, default, fall into arrears and even become
hostile. As usual, the long arm of the law will always stand in for the child.
Section 101(1) of The Children’s Act provides that any person, including the
child in whose favour a maintenance order has been made, may apply to the court
for the enforcement of the order under this section, if the person against whom
the order is made has failed to comply with any provision contained in a
maintenance order or has defaulted in any payment specified by the order, for
the recovery of any arrears with regard to any financial provision stipulated
in the order. Before issuing any orders pursuant to such an
application, the court may hold an enquiry as to the means of the respondent.
can make among other orders that any arrears in respect of any maintenance
monies or contribution monies as the case may be, be paid forthwith, or by
instalments or within such other period as shall be specified by the court;
The court can also issue a warrant for
distress on the respondent's property forthwith or postpone the issue of the
warrant until such time as the court may direct, or on such conditions as the
court may deem fit and order the attachment of the respondent's earnings
including any pension payable to the defaulter if the court is satisfied that
the failure to make payment was due to the willful refusal or culpable neglect
of the respondent and the respondent is gainfully employed or is engaged in
some business enterprise or undertaking or owns property from which he derives
the court shall not, unless special circumstances exist, make an order for the
attachment of the respondent's earnings in an amount which shall exceed more
than 45% of the respondent's annual income in any period of12 months.
can also restrain by way of an injunction the disposition, wastage or damage of
any property belonging to the respondent.The court
has a further discretion to make an order for the detention, attachment,
preservation or inspection of any property of the respondent and, for all or
any of the purposes aforesaid, authorise such person, as the court may deem
fit, to enter upon any land or building in which the respondent as an interest
whether in the possession or control of the defaulter or not.
has many options at its disposal under the Children’s Act all aimed at ensuring
that children enjoy their rights.