September 30, 2022

Right Against Exploitation under Indian constitution

This article is written by Farheen Ansari, a student of BBA LLB at Delhi Metropolitan Education.

                                                                                                                            

The fundamental rights are mentioned in The Constitution of India. Fundamental Rights are classified into six categories i.e., Right to freedom, Right to equality, Right against exploitation, Right to freedom of religion, Cultural and Educational Right, Right to constitutional Remedies.

The Indian laws banned or prohibit slavery or any act which affects the dignity of a citizen. It provides dignity and respect to each and every citizen of the country. Yet some so many people think that ‘we are the superior of others.’ As a result, so many people are forced to work against their will at cheap rates. According to Global Slavery Index in 2016 total of 18.3 million work against their will. Right against exploitation is mentioned in Articles 23 and 24.

ARTICLE 23 of CLAUSE (1) PROHIBITION OF TRAFFIC IN HUMAN BEINGS AND FORCED LABOUR 

Traffic in human beings and the beggar and other similar forms of forced labour are prohibited and the breach of this provision shall be an offence and should be punishable according to the law.

HUMAN TRAFFICKING: It refers to the sale and purchase of human beings for the purpose of sexual slavery or forced labour.

BEGGAR: It refers to the form of labour in which labours are forced to work for no remuneration.

OTHER FORMS OF FORCED LABOUR: This includes other forms of forced labour in which workers are forced to work at minimum wages or fewer wages.

This Article embodies two declarations: –

  1. Human trafficking, beggars, and similar forms of forced labour are prohibited. And the prohibition not only applies to the state but also to private persons and organizations.
  2. Any breach of the prohibition shall be an offense punishable according to the law.

Bounded labour is another form of forced labour in which a person is forced to work to pay off his debt for inadequate remuneration. It violates Article 23(1) and to abolish the Bounded Labour the parliament brought the Bounded Labour System Act, 1976.

In the execution of Article 23, the bonded labour system was abolished and declared illegal by the Bonded Labour System Act, 1976.

In the case Bandhua Mukti Morcha v. Union of India, The Supreme Court of India declared that “bonded labour as a crude form of forced labour prohibited by Article 23. The court also held that the failure of the State to identify the bonded labourers to release them from bondage and to rehabilitate them as envisaged by Bonded Labour System (Abolition) Act, 1976  violates Articles 21 and 23. Supreme Court characterized the system of bonded labour under which one person is bonded to provide labour to another for years and years under an alleged debt is supposed to be wiped out which never seems to happen during the lifetime of the bonded labourer as “totally incompatible with the new egalitarian socio-economic order” which we have promised to build and it is not only an affront to basic human dignity but also constitutes a gross and revolting violation of constitutional values”. In this case, Supreme Court further linked Article 23(1) and 21 with ‘bonded labour’ and observed that it is the right of every person to live with dignity and free from exploitation.

Another case was Ruiweinao Kahosan Tangkhul v. Ruiweinao Simirei Shailei Khullakpa. There appears to have been a custom for each one of the householders in the village to offer one-day free labour. The appellant refused to offer such free labour and challenged the custom as it opposes the provision of Article 23 (1) of the constitution, which prohibits human trafficking, beggar, or other forms of forced labour. The court held that the custom violates Article 23(1) of the Constitution.

In the case of Deena v. Union of India, it was held that if the prisoners are forced to do labour work without any remuneration, then it will be forced labour and it violates Article 23 of the Constitution of India. This is because prisoners are entitled to get some remuneration for the work they have done.

Clause (2) of Article 23 makes an exception in favour of the State and enables it to impose compulsory service for the public purpose provided that in imposing such a service the State doesn’t make any discrimination grounds of religion, race, gender, or caste. “Public Purpose” has been used in a wide sense and will include all that will be calculated to promote the welfare of the people as envisaged in the directive principles of state policy.

Hence, Article 23 disallows any form of forced labour, it permits the state to engage in compulsory enrolment of persons. However, while imposing the services upon the state services and the state shouldn’t discriminate based on gender, religion, race, or caste.

In the case of Dulal Samanta v. D.M., Howrah, the notice was sent to the petitioner of appointing him as a special officer for a period of three months. He complains that his right has been violated as it results in “forced labour”. The Court disregarded his appeal and held that conscription for services of police cannot be considered as either human trafficking, beggar and other any other form of forced labour.

Another case of In the case of Roweina Kahaosan Tangkhul v Ruiweinao Simirei Shailei Khullapka, the Court, however, allowed the appeal and held this customary practice to be violative of Article 23 of the Constitution. It said that when a Khullakpa insists on carrying on the custom, it led to forced labour as the villagers had to do it without receiving wages for it.

In the case of Acharaj Singh v. the State of Bihar, in this case, the cultivators use to carry the foodgrains to government godown without remuneration in a scheme of procurement of food grains as an essential commodity for the community as held by the Apex Court.

Article 24 PROHIBITION OF EMPLOYMENT OF CHILDREN IN FACTORIES, ETC.

It is mentioned in the article that no child below the age of fourteen years shall be employed to work in any factory or shouldn’t be engaged in any other hazardous employment. It is forbidden to engage any child in any employee who is below the age of fourteen and if anybody engages the child to work then he shall be punishable. Child labour hampers the growth and mental health of the child. It also disables them to live their fun-filled childhood.

Article 39 of the Constitution of India states that the state must ensure that the child below the age of fourteen is not forced to work by the economic necessity to enter into the fields of work.

In the case of People’s Union for Democratic Rights v. Union of India, the petitioner observed the working condition in which workers are involved in the Asiad project. He also observed that children below the age of fourteen are also employed. However, it was concluded that it was not against the Employment of Children Act, 1986 as the act doesn’t list construction as a hazardous industry. It was held that the work in the construction industry falls under hazardous industry even though it is not mentioned explicitly in the Employment of Children Act, 1986 and the court also advised the state government to amend the omission and should include the construction industry into the hazardous industry. In the case of Salal Hydro Project v. State of J&K where again it was held that children below the age of fourteen years should not be engaged in any hazardous industry as it violates Article 24.

M.C. Mehta v. State of Tamil Nadu

A person named Sivakasi had employed so many children who are below the age of fourteen. They all were engaged in the manufacturing process of matches and fireworks. The court observed the qualified as a hazardous industry. The court stated that children below the age of fourteen years shouldn’t be engaged in any hazardous industry and they must see that children get the education till they attain the age of fourteen. The Court also considered Article 34(e) which states that the tender age of children must not be abused and they must be allowed to develop in a healthy manner. The court held that the employer Sivakasi must give compensation of Rs. 20000 to every child in contravention to Child Labour Act, 1986.

 CONCLUSION 

So, we can conclude that the right against exploitation is basically a right to protect the dignity and respect of every citizen. It protects the people from getting exploit. There are many areas in the country where “untouchables” were being exploited in several ways by the higher castes and richer classes. For instance, in many industries in India like brick kilns, carpet weaving, embroidery, etc., many Bangladeshi and Nepali migrants are being subjected to forced labour. This is seen as employers recruit them through fraud and debt bondage. Such exploitation must be eradicated. 

Also, Child labour is a bane for the nation. It is a shameful practise that harms the welfare and development of the children as well as the entire nation. India still has approximately 30 million child labourers. This is horrifying and It is high time to eradicate this horrible practice and punish the offenders.