Sunday, October 23, 2016

Article 23 and 24 of Indian Constitution Right Against Exploitation and Child Labour

Again we would proceed in the same manner. First I will reproduce the constitutional text of Article 23 and Article 24 and then what they imply.

Article 23 of Indian Constitution- Prohibition of traffic in human beings and forced labour

(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 law

(2) 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 religion, race, caste or class or any of them

Article 23 of Indian Constitution Explained

Article 23 of Indian Constitution explains the Right against Exploitation. In the olden times, people of lower classes, based on caste or color, were enslaved and forced to do manual labor without any sort of pay or remuneration. It has two clauses.

Article 23(1) of Indian Constitution - The first clause prohibits human trafficking of any kind. This includes slave trade where humans were sold for the purposes of sexual exploitation, prostitution or forced labor. It is more commonly known as the modern form of slavery as compared to the olden times when it only meant having the slaves attend to various household problems. The term ‘begar’ has been used in this clause. It is a word in Indian English which means forced labor with no compensation. When the British ruled our country, begar system was in effect. The British officials and Zamindars used people with poor backgrounds to carry their personal belonging from one place to another. The Zamindars, through cunning tricks deceived generations of a family into working on their farms for free. These activities come under forced labor and were rendered illegal through our constitution.

Based on this article, the government passed two acts. The Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act 1956 and The Bonded Labour System (Abolishment) Act 1976.
Article 23 and 24 of Indian Constitution
Right Against Exploitation and Child Labour

The important points are:

(a)    In case of disasters or any such emergency situation where the government needs additional help from civilian workforce, even then it can’t have them work without paying any remuneration. It still has to pay those workers the minimum wage set at that time.

(b)   We all know that the prisoners get paid for the work they do in jail. There are two cases here. It is not a violation of Article 23 if the prisoners who are sentenced to rigorous punishment are not paid for their work. However, any person who is under preventive detention, normal sentence or those under trials must be paid reasonable wages if they want to work.

Now, let’s understand another related term, Bonded Labour.

It is also called forced labour. As clear the name is, it doesn’t simply mean forced manual work, but also the work done due to economical compulsions. For example, if a person is forced to take up work that pays less than the predefined minimum wage, it is also a violation.

Article 24 of The Constitution Of India - Prohibition of employment of children in factories, etc 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 Provided that nothing in this sub clause shall authorize the detention of any person beyond the maximum period prescribed by any law made by Parliament under sub clause (b) of clause ( 7 ); or such person is detained in accordance with the provisions of any law made by Parliament under sub clauses (a) and (b) of clause ( 7 )

Article 24 of Indian Constitution Explained - 


This article mainly refers to the abolition of child labour. Employing children below the age of fourteen years in dangerous factories which may cause them physical as well as long term mental harm is strictly prohibited. It is an integral moral value of the constitution that safeguards the rights of innocent young children in our country. The parliament has even passed strict laws that incriminate the employers who violate this article and the laws that are based on this. The child employment act of 1938 was one of the first such acts passed to secure the rights of children. However, in this act, children working in construction were not included. This was amended in the Act of 1982.

In 1991, the Supreme Court directed that the employment of children in dangerous factories like manufacturing of fireworks and matches is also prohibited.

In 1997, the Supreme Court stated that the children of prostitutes hold the right to equality in order to make them feel a part of the mainstream society.

On May 13, 2015 a new amendment was passed to  Child Labour (Prohibition & Regulation) Amendment Bill, 2012 by the union cabinet, which was chaired by the Prime minister, Mr Narendra Modi. According  to this new amendment, children were not to work in hazardous occupations. However, they could help out in family businesses, entertainment and sports activities, but only after schools or during vacations. There will be no compromise to their security under any circumstances. This was done keeping in mind the large number of children who helped out their families in various activities such as handicrafts and farming. The reason that was given for this was that helping out in such harmless activities makes the children more aware of the basics of business or running such businesses which helps mould their future.

Moreover, the first time offenders will be pardoned, but strict punishments will be imparted to repeaters. This can lead to very heated debate as to whether the time of children should be utilized in making a earning so early in their lifespan or keeping their minds focused at studies and their overall development without the stress of financial stability. Before you make up your mind, I would like to bring to your attention that not all families have stable income and some of them might have to resort to inhuman activities just to stay alive and keep the children fed. Under such circumstances, the priorities shift from a sound education to a full stomach. And without proper knowledge of all the schemes started by the government to help such families, there’s isn’t much these families can do.

See, I just made a circle from these problems.

Its up to you to decide and brainstorm a solution that you might apply in order to help victimized children.

Even with all these laws prohibiting human trafficking and child labour, we still see headlines where containers full of human slaves get seized. Every now and then, when we stop at a local dhaba for lunch or a ‘pan wala’, we encounter little children running around in a vest and shorts, catering to the needs of the customers. We have the laws and the provisions, but we still have to go a long way if we are to come even close to abolishing such idiosyncrasies.

Change has to start from within.

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