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Right Against Exploitation - fundamental rights given by the Indian Constitution

Right Against Exploitation

Right Against Exploitation - fundamental rights given by the Indian Constitution

  • It prohibits human trafficking i.e. it criminalises buying and selling of human beings like a commodity. It also prohibits use of women or girls for immoral purposes.
  • It prohibits slavery, begar, bonded labour or other forms of forced labour. Begar is a term used for practice wherein the worker has to render free service to his master or at a nominal rate. The State has been given the authority to introduce compulsory service for such persons in order to stop the practice. The government cannot discriminate on the basis of religion, race, colour, etc.
  • It prohibits the employment of children below the age of 14 years in factories, mines and other hazardous activities

The right against exploitation is one of the most vital fundamental rights given by the Indian Constitution. These rights aim at protecting citizens from being subjugated to environmental, domestic and work hazards. Articles 23 and 24 of the Indian Constitution safeguard women and children and others against exploitation of various forms.

Article Against Human Trafficking And Forced Labor

The first provision in the Article that mentions the Right against exploitation, states the ‘eradication of human trafficking and forced labor (beggar)’. Article 23 declares slave trade, prostitution and human trafficking a punishable offence. There is, however, an exception here in the form of employment without payment for compulsory services for public purposes. Compulsory military conscription is covered by this provision

Article Against Child Labor

Article 24 of the Indian Constitution prohibits abolition of employment of children below the age of 14 years in dangerous jobs like factories and mines. Child labour is considered gross violation of the spirit and provisions of the constitution. The parliament has also passed the Child Labor act of 1986, by providing penalties for employers and relief and rehabilitation amenities for those affected.

Although Articles 23 and 24 lay down definite provisions against trafficking and child labor, the weaker sections of the society are still faced by such grave problems. Punishable by law, these acts are now legitimately bound by legal actions of the Parliament in the form of Bonded Labor Abolition Act of 1976 and the Child Labor Act of 1986, along with the ground rules and provisions stated in the Right against Exploitation act.

Article 23 – Prohibition of traffic in human beings and forced labour

Article 23(1): Traffic in human beings and begar and other similar forms of forced labour are prohibited and any contravention of this provision shall be an offence punishable in accordance with the law.

Article 23(2): Nothing in this article shall prevent the State from imposing compulsory service for public purposes, and in imposing such service the State shall not make any discrimination on grounds only of religion, race, caste or class or any of them.

  1. Exploitation implies the misuse of others’ services by force and/or labour without payment.
  2. There were many marginalised communities in India who were forced to engage in manual and agricultural labour without any payment.
  3. Labour without payment is known as begar.
  4. Article 23 forbids any form of exploitation.
  5. Also, one cannot be forced to engage in labour against his/her will even if remuneration is given.
  6. Forced labour is forbidden by the Constitution. It is considered forced labour if the less-than-minimum wage is paid.
  7. This article also makes ‘bonded labour’ unconstitutional.
  8. Bonded labour is when a person is forced to offer services out of a loan/debt that cannot be repaid.
  9. The Constitution makes coercion of any kind unconstitutional. Thus, forcing landless persons into labour and forcing helpless women into prostitution is unconstitutional.
  10. The Article also makes trafficking unconstitutional.
  11. Trafficking involves the buying and selling of men and women for illegal and immoral activities.
  12. Even though the Constitution does not explicitly ban ‘slavery’, Article 23 has a wide scope because of the inclusion of the terms ‘forced labour’ and ‘traffic’.
  13. Article 23 protects citizens not only against the State but also from private citizens.
  14. The State is obliged to protect citizens from these evils by taking punitive action against perpetrators of these acts (which are considered crimes), and also take positive actions to abolish these evils from society.
  15. Under Article 35 of the Constitution, the Parliament is authorized to enact laws to punish acts prohibited by Article 23.
  16. Clause 2 implies that compulsory services for public purposes (such as conscription to the armed forces) are not unconstitutional.
  17. Laws passed by the Parliament in pursuance of Article 23 *Suppression of Immoral Traffic in Women and Girls Act, 1956 *Bonded Labour System (Abolition) Act, 1976

Article 24 – Prohibition of employment of children in factories, etc.

Article 24 says 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.”

  1. This Article forbids the employment of children below the age of 14 in any hazardous industry or factories or mines, without exception.
  2. However, the employment of children in non-hazardous work is allowed.

Laws that were passed in pursuance of Article 24 in India.

The Factories Act, 1948

This was the first act passed after independence to set a minimum age limit for the employment of children in factories. The Act set a minimum age of 14 years. In 1954, this Act was amended to provide that children below the age of 17 could not be employed at night.

The Mines Act of 1952

This Act prohibits the employment of people under the age of 18 years in mines.

The Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act, 1986

This was a landmark law enacted to curb the menace of child labour prevalent in India. It described where and how children could be employed and where and how this was forbidden. This Act designates a child as a person who has not completed his/her 14th year of age. The 1986 Act prohibits the employment of children in 13 occupations and 57 processes.

Child Labour (Prohibition & Regulation) Amendment Act, 2016

This Act completely forbids the employment of children below 14 years of age. It also bans the employment of people between the ages of 14 and 18 in hazardous occupations and processes. Punishments to violators of this law were made stricter by this amendment act. This Act allows children to be employed in certain family occupations and also as artists.

Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Amendment Rules, 2017

The government notified the above Rules in 2017 in order to provide a broad and specific framework for prevention, prohibition, rescue and rehabilitation of child and adolescent workers. The Rules clarified on issues concerning the employment of family enterprises and also provides safeguards for artists in that the working hours and conditions are specified.

World Day Against Child Labour 12 June

The International Labour Organization (ILO) launched the World Day Against Child Labour in 2002 to focus attention on the global extent of child labour and the action and efforts needed to eliminate it. Each year on 12 June, the World Day brings together governments, employers and workers organizations, civil society, as well as millions of people from around the world to highlight the plight of child labourers and what can be done to help them.

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