The Right against exploitation seems to be exploited

The Right against exploitation seems to be exploited

According to Global slavery index, 2016 , 18.3 million people are engaged in modern slavery in India[1], and According to United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) almost 1 in 10(around 152 million)  children across the world are involved in child labour[2] and almost one-half of them are in hazardous forms of work, 30 million children do not live in their their country of birth, which increases their risk of being trafficked for sexual exploitation and other illegal occupations, the staggering figure is that By 2025, an approximated 121 million children will be in child labour and about 52 million of them will be in hazardous and dangerous work.

The reason behind the presentation of all these data is to make realize how disturbing these crimes are , and how rapidly growing.


  1. Right Against Exploitation

 Article 23 (1) of the Constitution of India states that Traffic in human beings, Begar and other similar forms of forced labour are prohibited, violation of what shall be an offence punishable in accordance with law.

Let me explain the three key words mentioned here

  1. Traffic in Human Beings :- In simple Words, any trade involving Buying or selling of men and women for any illegal or immoral activities like sexual exploitation, or any kind of commercial exploitation through the act of violence, deception or force is Trafficking In Human beings.

Section 370 of Indian Penal Code also talk about the same stating  “whoever imports, exports, removes, buys, sells or disposes of a person as a slave or accepts, receives or detains against his will any person as a slave shall be punished with imprisonment  of either description for a term which may extend to seven years, and shall also be liable to fine.”

While in case of minor, section 372 of Indian Penal Code prohibits to sell, hire, or dispose of any person under the age of 18 Years  for the purpose of prostitution or illicit intercourse

Begar;- Molesworth describes the term Begar as “Labour or service Taken by a government or person in power with NO remuneration”, while the Wilson’s glossary of Judicial and Revenue term Begar as “labour or service which a person is compelled to deliver without receiving ANY remuneration for It”. And the same was accepted by a Division Bench of the Bombay High Court in S. Vasudevan v. S.D. Mital[3]. Thus, Begar is indeed an another form of forced labour

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Other similar forms of forced labour ;- let me make it clear by the courts observations itself

In Ram Niwas vs Uoi & Ors [4] The Delhi High Court rejected the Arguments made by respondent where the respondent said that Article 23 is applicable only where labour or service is exacted from a person WITHOUT paying any remuneration at all, but if it is paid, even inadequate, it will not come under the ambit of other similar form of Forced labour, the Delhi HC observed that “it makes no difference whether the person who is forced to give his labour or service to another is remunerated or not. Even if remuneration is paid, labour supplied by a person would be hit by Article  23 if it is forced labour, that is, labour supplied not willingly but as a result of force or compulsion”.

In the case of  Dulal Samanta vs. District Magistrate, Howrah[5] the Calcutta High Court while interpreting the expression ‘other similar forms of forced labour’ under Article 23(1) of the Constitution held that ”this expression should be interpreted by using the doctrine- ‘Ejusdem Generis’ i.e. it has to be something in the nature of either trafficking in human being or begar.”  In this expression, the term ‘forced labour’ can be interpreted under section 374 of the Indian Penal Code as well which prohibits any person to labour against the will of that person.

Here I think The observation made by Justice Prafullachandra Natwarlal Bhagwati in peple’s Union for Democratic Rights and Other vs. Union of India[6] should be mentioned to make it more clear , he observed “any factor which deprives a person of a choice of alternatives and compels him to adopt one particular course of action may properly be regarded as force, and if labour or service is compelled as a result of such ‘force’ it would be forced labour”.

The similar was observed by the SC in  Sanjit Roy vs. State of Rajasthan[7] where the court held that “where a person provides labour or service to another for remuneration which is less than the minimum wage the labour or service provided by him clearly falls within the scope and ambit of forced labour.”

Let me explain here bonded labour as well Also known as debt bondage or debt slavery  which is another type of forced labour which implies when a person is forced to work to pay off a debt with little or no money.

In the case, Bandhua Mukti Morcha vs. Union of India[8], the Supreme Court declared that “bonded labour as a crude form of forced labour prohibited by Article 23, and observed that “it is the fundamental right of everyone in this country, assured under the interpretation given to Article 21 to live with dignity, free from exploitation” and said that “ any person who is employed as a bonded labour is deprived of his liberty. Such a person becomes a slave and his freedom in the matter of employment is completely taken away and forced labour is thrust upon him. It was also held that whenever it is shown that a worker is engaged in forced labour, the Court would presume he is doing so in consideration of some economic consideration and is, therefore, a bonded labour. This presumption can only be rebutted against by the employer and the state government if satisfactory evidence is provided for the same.”

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2. Compulsory Service For Public Purposes

Article 23(2) of the Constitution of India says “ Nothing in this article shall prevent the State from imposing compulsory service for public purpose, and in imposing such service the State shall not make any discrimination on grounds only of  or any of them”

Here, the Constitution allows the state to impose compulsory service for public purposes. And directs that while doing this, the state must not discriminate on the basis of religion, race, caste or class.

Basically, this is an exception to the principle laid down in Article 23 (1).

Followings are the some of the public services the state may impose in light of the judgement of various Courts.

The state

(a)can compel a Government servant to not to retire if any departmental enquiry is yet to be concluded even after he has reached the age of retirement,  held in partap singh vs state of Punjab[9] by The SC

(b) can compel farmers to carry the food grains to the Government godown with no remuneration for labour if it pronounced as an essential commodity for the community, held in Acharaj Singh vs. State of Bihar[10] by Patna HC

(c) can compel a person to do social service and work for the betterment and upliftment of the society as provided National Service Act, 1972 , held in The State vs. Jorawar[11]by the Himachal pradesh

(e) can compel a prisoner undergoing rigorous imprisonment to do hard labour though they ll receive the minimum wages in return of their labours, held in state of  Gujarat vs Honourable High court of Gujarat[13]   by the SC

Important Legislation To Deal with exploitation and Forced Labour

The Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act, 1956:- which declares the sexual exploitation of male and female a cognizable offence.

See also  Kidnapping and Abduction

The Trade Unions Act, 1926:- which ensures that the  higher managements can be compelled by the trade unions in porder to  to fulfill their rational demands.

It is worth to know that Article 19(1)(c) of the Indian Constitution gives everyone the right “to form associations or unions”.

The Payment of Wages Act 1936:– which directs the authorities to pay the wages/salaries to workers on time without any delay or unauthorized deductions.

 Minimum Wages Act, 1948 ;- which orders to pay the minimum wages as decided by the government (as per the kind of work and the location) to the workers of the different economic

Factories Act, 1948;– The Act makes it compulsory to ensure good  health and welfare of the workers

Article 42 also directs the states to make provision for securing just and humane conditions of work and for maternity relief

Equal Remuneration Act, 1976;- Equal pay for equal work is recognized in the constitution of India, and is a Fundamental Rights under Article 14 and the Directive Principles of State Policy under Article 39. The Act provides that the payment of the men and the women must be equal in case of same work  failing of what the employer will be penalised.

Bonded Labour System (Abolition) Act, 1976:- which abolishes bonded labour system which is explained before

Conclusion

A lot of measures have been taken, Innumerable practices have been done to eradicate these kind of crimes, innumerous  laws has been made to protect the people from Exploitation, several Articles like Article 14, 16, 19, 21, 23, 24 have been embodied in the Constitution to upheld their rights , Article 39, 41, 42, 43, 43A and 54 directs the state to strive for their betterment, still, unfortunately we are witnessing end number of these sort of terrifying crimes. men, women and children are still being exploited as before , The Right against Exploitation seems to be Exploited. Thus, the officials must endeavour to implement these laws effectively, strict measures should be taken and  the wrongdoers should not let go and must be punished.

Endnotes

 studies/india/a[ https://www.globalslaveryindex.org/2018/findings/country-studies/india/]

[2] https://www.unicef.org/protection/child-labour

[3]  AIR 1962 Bom 53

[4]  Ram Niwas vs Uoi & Ors on 15 February, 2010 https://indiankanoon.org/doc/49321338/

[5]  AIR 1958 Cal 365

[6] AIR 1982 SC 1473

[7] AIR 1983 SC 328

[8]  AIR 1984 SC 802.

[9] AIR 1964 SC 72

[10]  AIR 1967 Pat 114

[11]  AIR 1953 HP 18

[12] AIR 1958 Cal 365

[13]AIR 1998 SC 3164

Author: MD HASNAIN RAZA,
B.A.LL.B(Hons) student at JAMIA MILLIA ISLAMIA, NEW DELHI

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