Report No. 259
B. State Legislation Enactments
5.3.1 Among other State laws, the Assam Public Health Act, 2010, specifically provides for a "right to health" (Section 5) -this is a general right that will also cover the rights of young children in the under-6 years age-group. An example of a State level child welfare statute is the Goa Children's Act, 2003, which calls for the State to ensure that children are protected against any form of abuse, exploitation and neglect and children receive special attention with regard to education.45 The Act defines "child" as someone under the age of 18 years.
Section 3(4) states that 'raising the level of nutrition and the standard of living as well as the improvement of public health as among States primary duties' is a 'right of a child'. Further, Section 5 of this Act specifically deals with Health & Nutrition and demands the state to universalize all vaccines and immunizations, to provide crèches and day care centres for infants and children of working mothers in all sectors of employment, to take preventive measures against the spread of diseases such as AIDS and terminal illness such as cancer, and to strive to reach higher standards for children by protecting them from malaria and from all avoidable illness and diseases.46
It further instructs medical institutions, clinics, hospitals and nursing homes to not reject admission or treatment of a child or pregnant mother who has any illness or disease or ailment which has a social stigma attached with it, such as leprosy, AIDS, etc., and any contravention of this section is punishable with a fine which may extend to Rs. 50,000/-.47
45 The Goa Children's Act, 2003, available at;
47 Supra note 9.
5.3.2 Even though Chapter VIII of the Madras Public Health Act, 1939 (MPHA), provides for Maternity and Child Welfare under Section 82 stating that "Every local authority shall be bound to carry out such measures pertaining to maternity and child welfare as may be prescribed" 48, the State has not passed any rules to implement this Section. The only Rules the state enacted were the Rules for Vaccination in Rural Areas Under Section 81, 1964 (of MPHA), which defined "Child" as a boy or a girl who has not attained the age of 18 years and dealt specifically with vaccinations alone, side-lining the subject of nutrition.
Various other such state rules as the Himachal Pradesh Vaccination Rules, 1973, Maharashtra Vaccination Rules, 1966 etc., do mention vaccination of children, which is one of the most successful health interventions and can bring about significant reductions in infectious diseases and adverse health consequences and improve quality of life49; however, they do not deal with health and nutrition of young children as a legal right.
48 The Madras Public Health Act, 1939, available at
49 National Vaccine Policy, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India, April 2011 available at
5.3.3 Thus, very few States have enacted legislative provisions with regard to health and nutrition for children, and even these have not focused on the specific rights of younger children. There are no provisions at all in the laws of most States. The nation clearly faces a statutory vacuum at both the State and the Central level.