Right against Exploitation

Right against Exploitation

This article deals with ‘Right against Exploitation .’ This is part of our series on ‘Polity’ which is important pillar of GS-2 syllabus . For more articles , you can click here

Article 23

  • Prohibition of traffic in human beings and begar & other similar forms of forced labour
  • Note – Just Begar and Forced Labour is prohibited by Constitution. In all cases regarding this Article , thing to interpret was what constitute  Force in Forced labour which was widened by SC to things like
    • Legal compulsion (demanding labour by making law),
    • Physical Compulsion ,
    • Psychological Compulsions ,
    • Economic Compulsions  and
    • Any factor that deprives a person from Choices and Alternatives
  • Traffic in human beings include
    • Selling and buying men,women & children like goods
    • Immoral traffic in women and children including prostitution
    • Devadasis
    • Slavery
  • Law: Bonded Labour Systems(abolition) Act,1976
  • Available to both citizens & non citizens and against state & private persons

Note : Issue of Women being bought by Haryanvi and Punjabi men from West Bengal, Odisha , Chattisgarh etc known as ‘Paros’ , Molkis or Kudesan in common language due to low Sex Ratio in these states also comes under Human Trafficking .


  • Constitution doesn’t specifically define Begar . It was defined by Supreme Court as  Labour extracted without giving remuneration . 
  • In Thangkul vs Shailer Case regarding Manipur based Custom in which each person of village has to give one day of free labour to headman was held violative of Article 23 . Hence, Cultural Customs don’t stand in front of Article 23
  • (Landmark Case) Asiad Case(mentioned in NCERT too) in which Labour Laws of Minimum wages were violated by Union of India, Delhi Development Authority and Delhi Administration .  SC ordered that  paying less than Minimum Wage comes under Forced Labour even if it is Voluntarily agreed .

Article 24

  • Prohibition of employment of children below age of 14 years in any factory, mine or other hazardous activities 
  • But it doesn’t prohibit their employment in any harmless or innocent work
  • Main legislation: Child Labour(Prohibition & Regulation)Act,1986 amended in 2016
    • 1986 Act banned Under-14 employment only in 18 hazardous industries .
    • New Act bans Under-14 employment in all  occupations except Work done in farmlands, family enterprises and audio visual entertainment industry (FFE)  , provided it is done after school hours and during vacations


  • (Landmark Judgement): MC Mehta vs State of Tamil Nadu / Sivakasi Firework Factories Case –  Public Interest Litigation against practice of employing children in Sivakasi fireworks factories . 
  • Bandhua Mukti Morcha vs Union of India / UP Carpet Factories Case : Against employment of Children in Carpet Industry in UP
  • Bachpan Bachao Andolan vs Union of India – SC instructed government to prohibit the employment of children in Circus business . The salvaged children to kept in Protective Homes till they achieve age of 18 years and design rehabilitation 

Important Note

  • In 2017, India ratified International Labour Organisation (ILO) Convention 182 on the worst forms of child labour and Convention 138 on Minimum Age of Employment.
  • These were to
    • Appropriately raising the age of employment in hazardous occupations from 14 to 18 years. India has already done so by passing of the Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Amendment Bill, 2016  
    • Prohibit and eliminate the worst forms of child labour: These Include 
      • child slavery
      • child prostitution
      • use of children for illicit activities such as drug trafficking, and
      • exposure to any hazardous work which is likely to harm the health, safety or morals of children.

Amendments to Child Labour(P&R) Act, 1986

  • 1986 act was weak and ineffective in curbing the child labour . It prohibit employment of children below 14  in 18 occupations 
  • Contradiction with Article 21A and Right to Education (RTE) 2009 which make schooling compulsory for 6-14 years old
  • Does not regulate adolescent labour as mandated by ILO conventions 138&182

Changes in new Act

  • New Act bans Under-14 employment in all  occupations except Work done in farmlands, family enterprises and audio visual entertainment industry (FFE)  , provided it is done after school hours and during vacations
  • Prohibit employment of adolescent in 14-18 years age in occupations unsuitable to their age
  • Punishment :
    • Employer : punishment of 20,000 fine on first instance and 50,000 on second
    • Parents exempted on first instance , 10,000 subsequently



  • Act is aligned with the statutes of the International Labour Organization (ILO) convention.
  • Inline with Right to Education . Hence , children can get primary education  till 14 years
  • It takes into account the realities of family enterprises where children help their parents


  • Law opens loopholes to sustain or encourage child labour . Family Enterprise fall in unorganised sector which is an amorphous legal entity difficult to govern
  • ‘Family’ has not been defined. As UNICEF India has commented, this could lead to more children working in unregulated conditions.
  • Adversely affect the girl child . They do domestic work

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