Tuesday 6 February 2024

What is the basic concept of "parens patriae" under Indian law?

 The doctrine of "parens patriae" is a legal concept derived from English common law, which translates to "parent of the country" in Latin. In essence, it refers to the inherent power and authority of the state to act as a guardian for individuals who are unable to take care of themselves or who are deemed legally incompetent. The state intervenes to protect the interests of those individuals, particularly children, the mentally ill, and other vulnerable groups.

In Indian law, the doctrine of "parens patriae" is not explicitly codified but is recognized and applied through various statutes and judicial decisions. The concept finds application in matters related to child welfare, juvenile justice, and mental health laws.

For example, in matters concerning child custody, the court may invoke the doctrine of parens patriae to ensure the best interests of the child are upheld, even if it means overruling the preferences of the parents. Similarly, in cases involving the mentally ill or intellectually disabled individuals, the state may intervene to protect their rights and provide necessary care and support.

Overall, the doctrine of parens patriae underscores the state's role as a protector and guardian of its citizens, especially those who are vulnerable and in need of assistance or protection. It serves as a legal framework for the state to fulfill its duty to ensure the welfare and well-being of its citizens.

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