PROHIBITION OF BONDED AND CHILD LABOUR

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By Alseena Joseph

Introduction

          The Indian Constitution is the supreme law of land.Our Constitution consist of 22 parts and 395 Articles. Not all parts may be given equally importance, however the constitution consists of the most important part which is highly significant when it comes to the existence of individuals in India. Part III  of the Indian Constitution containing Article 12-35 deals with Fundamental rights which are the basic rights of all. It thus highly significant to know what are they, what do they mean etc…. The Constitution makers have given powers to enforce our basic right to the High Courts as well as to the Supreme Court. Here we are discussing about Article 23 and 24 i.e. , Right against exploitation provided under the Fundamental rights. The term exploitation means misuse of services of others with the help of force. These Article deals with the prohibition of traffic in human beings and forced labour and also aims to eradicate child labour by prohibiting employment of children in factories, industries etc… This right available to both citizens and non-citizens against the state as well as against private person.

ARTICLE 23 Prohibition of Traffic in human being & forced labour.

            Article 23 of the Indian Constitution prohibits human traffic and forced labour. It reads as follows:                                                                                                          (1) Traffic in kinsmen and begar and other similar varieties of forced labour are prohibited and any contravention of this provision shall be an offence punishable under law.(2)Nothing during 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 the grounds only of faith, race, caste or class or any of them.[1]

            The expression ‘traffic in human beings’ includes selling and buying of men, women and youngsters like goods and also includes that immoral traffic in women and kids or such like practices like slavery. this can be the fashionable variety of slavery were there’s an illegal trade for the aim of economic sexual exploitation, prostitution or forced labour. The term ‘begar’ utilized in the article says about the ‘involuntary work without the payment’. It constitutes the following two elements:                                                                           (a) it’s to compel an individual to figure against his/her will;  and                                                      (b) they’re not paid any remuneration for the work done by them.

For example, in olden times there was a system of Zamindari were the zamindars want to compel the peoples to hold their goods after they moved from one place to other place and this was a forced labour where no remunerations were paid.

            Under Article 35 it authorises the Parliament to enact laws for punishing the acts prohibited under the Art 23 of the Indian Constitution. In pursuance of this Parliament has passed ‘Suppression of Immoral Traffic in Women and Girls Act,1956’, ‘The minimum Wages Act,1948’ , Contract Labour Act,1970 and Bonded Labour System(Abolition) Act, 1976. Under Bonded Labour System(Abolition) Act, 1976 where an individual is guilty of extracting bonded labour is punishable with imprisonment, which can touch 3years and fine of 20,000/- . And also, various State law make it an offence to compel someone to figure against his/her will or without payment of wages for worked they need done. as an example, Section 3 of the U. P. Removal of Social Disabilities Act, 1947.

            In case when the prisoners are sent to the jails for rigorous imprisonment, they need to be paid reasonable wages and if they’re not paid it doesn’t amount to violation of Article 23 as per the Supreme Court verdict. and people who have sentenced to simpleimprisonments and who have detained under preventive detention cannot be asked to try to manual work. If they need to try and do work then they might be awarded with equitable wages.

Peoples union for Democratic Rights v. Union of India[2], during this case the Supreme Court, the scope and ambit of the Article was considered well. and therefore, the court held that the scope of Article 23 is wide and unlimited and strikes at “traffic in human beings” and “begar and other styles of forced labour” wherever they’re found.

In Sanjit Roy v. State of Rajasthan[3], in this case the court held that the payment of wages made to the person employed on Famine Relief Work were not up to the minimum wages and thus it’s violative of Article 23 of the Indian constitution.[4]

In Bandhu Mukti Morcha v. Union of India[5], the Supreme Court held that when an action is initiated within the court through public interest litigation alleging the existence of bonded labour the govt. should welcome it because it may give the govt. a chance to look at whether bonded labour system exists and additionally on take appropriate steps to eradicate that system. this can be the constitutional obligation of the govt. under Article 23 which prohibits ‘forced labour’ in any form. Thus, the system of bonded labour was abolished but unfortunately there have been no serious effort made to grant effect to the present Article. it had been only in 1976 where the Parliament enacted the Bonded Labour System(Abolition) Act,1976, providing for the abolition of the system with a view to forestall the economic and physical exploitation of the weaker sections in the society.           

“The court said that when someone is prohibited to refused to render service only on the ground that he or she belongs to schedule caste then it is violative of the basic right and also he or she can’t be subjected to force labour. Likewise, the Payment of Wages Act, 1926, which provides that each employer is chargeable for payment of wages to his employees has been held to be valid under the Article 23 of the Indian Constitution.”[6]

  Compulsory service for public purposes                                                                              Compulsory service for public purposes Clause(2) of Art. 23 contains an exception to the above general rules. The State is empowered to impose compulsory service but in imposing such compulsory services the State cannot make any discrimination on ground of faith, race, caste or class. for instance, compulsory military service or social services will be imposed because they’re neither begar nor traffic in people at large.
In Chandra v. State of Rajasthan[7], The village head i.e.,sarpanch ordered every household to send one manto render free service for the embankment of the village tank together with a spade and an iron pan. The Rajasthan court held the order of Sarpanch clearly violative of Article 23(1) which forbade begar. The Court also observed that Panchayat couldn’t force someone to perform labour.

ARTICLE 24 Prohibition of Employment of Children in factories etc.

            Article 24 of the Indian Constitution prohibits of employment of youngsters in factories etc. “No child below the age of fourteen years shall be employed in any factors or mine or any other hazardous industries.” This provision certainly within the interest of public health and safety of lifetime of children. and also, the provision is read with the Directive Principles of State Policy contained in Art. 39(c) and (f), provides for the protection of health and strength of youngsters below the age of fourteen years. However, it doesn’t prohibit their employment in any harmless work or job.

Further, there are number of enactments, which prohibit employment of kids viz. Employment of youngsters Act,1938; Motor Transport Workers Act, 1951; Merchant Shipping Act,1958; Apprentice Act, 1961; Beedi & Cigar Workers(Prohibition and Regulation)Act, 1986 etc.
    InPeoples Union for Democratic Rights v. Union of India[8], the Supreme Courtheld that the prohibition contained within the Article 24 might be plainly and indubitably enforced against each one, whether State or private individuals. it’s been held to be the requirement of the State, to make sure that the private contractors must not contravene the prohibition. The court further laid down that building construction work was such hazardous employment where children below 14 years mustn’t be used.

In M C Mehta v. State of Tamil Nadu[9], in this case court ordered to conduct a survey of child labour within 6 months  that would give an alternative source of income to help in their education. As their parents couldn’t afford money for the education it was asked by the court to take alternatives by the state government to educate those children under Article 45 of the Constitution. It would be the duty of the Inspector’s to see that this call of the constitution is carried out. And overall monitoring by the Ministry of Labour, Government of India would be beneficial and worthwhile. The court also directed that where the children are employed it should give to his/ her parent so that the children will be kept away from hazardous employment. And in case of non-hazardous industries jobs are concerned the inspector can shall have to see that the working hours of the child are not more than 4 to 6 hours and should receive at least two hours of education every day and the cost of education shall be borne by the employer.

CONCLUSION

            The basic human right involves right against the exploitation of human labour. So, to protect the human being from the exploitations Article 23 and 24 were enacted under the Indian constitution as the fundamental right. Many cases were marked as there were more exploitation of workers found. By the enactment of these Article the exploitation of men, women and children were protected. The concept of slavery and forced labour were present in the country. The peoples were asked to do work without remuneration and also human trafficking i.e., the modern type of slavery was present so to stop this kind of exploitation the Article 23 were inserted. Article 24 were inserted as to stop the child labour as the children were compelled to do work in hazardous industries due to lack of money and poverty  present. These children were denied of their basic right i.e., right to education. Therefore, this Article aims to eradicate child labour by prohibiting child labour in factories etc. and also directs some measures for employment of children in non-hazardous industries so that the basic right is not violated. Thus, we can quote that the Article 23 and 24 are enacted under the Indian Constitution to protect citizens as well as non-citizens from the exploitation of labour.

Bibliography

Kanoon, I. (2020, november 10). Retrieved from https://indiankanoon.org/doc/212829/

Pandey, D. J. (2019). Constitutional Law of India. Central Law Agency .

Universal. (2019). The constitution of India.


[1] Bare Act – The constitution of India

[2] AIR 1982 SC 1943

[3] AIR 1983 SC 1155

[4] Indian Kanoon

[5] AIR 1984 SC 802

[6] Constitutional Law of India Dr. J N Pandey

[7] AIR 1959 Raj. 186

[8] AIR 1983 SC 1473

[9] AIR 1997 SC 699

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