Article 23 of Indian Constitution

Introduction to Article 23 of Indian Constitution

  • Article 23 of Indian Constitution serves as a beacon of hope for millions of individuals, ensuring their protection against various forms of exploitation. It reflects the commitment of the Indian government to safeguard the rights and dignity of its citizens.
  • This article embodies the essence of fundamental rights and aims to protect the dignity and freedom of every individual. In this article, we will explore the key aspects of Article 23 and its impact on Indian society.

Prohibition of Trafficking and Forced Labor

  • Article 23 unequivocally prohibits trafficking in human beings and forced labor.
  • It states that trafficking in any form and the use of human beings as a means of forced labor is prohibited and illegal.
  • The article acknowledges the inherent right to live with dignity and ensures that no person is subjected to any form of servitude or forced labor.

Abolition of Begar and Other Forms of Forced Work

  • Begar, a practice prevalent in some parts of India, involves forcing individuals to work without any remuneration.
  • Article 23 explicitly abolishes begar and other forms of forced work, ensuring that every person has the right to work without being exploited or coerced.

Exceptions to the Prohibition

  • While Article 23 prohibits trafficking and forced labor, it also recognizes certain exceptions.
  • These exceptions include compulsory military service and any work required as a part of a sentence imposed by a court of law.
  • However, these exceptions are subject to reasonable limitations and do not infringe upon the dignity and freedom of individuals.

Bonded Labor and Its Eradication

  • One of the grave concerns addressed by Article 23 is bonded labor.
  • It prohibits the practice of bonded labor, which forces individuals into a state of perpetual servitude as a result of economic or social coercion.
  • The Indian government has taken significant steps to eradicate bonded labor, providing rehabilitation and welfare measures for those affected by this exploitative practice.

Rehabilitation and Welfare Measures

  • To ensure the effective implementation of Article 23, the government of India has introduced various rehabilitation and welfare measures.
  • These measures aim to empower individuals who have been victims of trafficking, forced labor, or bonded labor.
  • They include access to education, vocational training, healthcare, and legal support, enabling survivors to rebuild their lives with dignity.

Role of the State and Enforcement Mechanisms

  • Article 23 places the responsibility on the state to enforce and uphold the provisions within it.
  • The government, through legislative and administrative measures, works towards the eradication of trafficking and forced labor.
  • It establishes appropriate enforcement mechanisms, such as special courts and dedicated law enforcement agencies, to ensure the effective implementation of the law.

Judgements related to Article 23 of the Indian Constitution

M.C. Mehta v. State of Gujarat (1979):

  • This judgement held that the practice of bonded labour is violative of Article 23 of the Constitution.
  • The Court ordered the government to take steps to abolish bonded labour and to rehabilitate the bonded labourers.

Bandhua Mukti Morcha v. Union of India (1984):

  • This judgement further clarified the scope of Article 23 and held that it prohibits all forms of forced labour, including bonded labour, begar, and other similar forms of forced labour.
  • The Court also ordered the government to take steps to identify and free all bonded labourers in the country.

State of Kerala v. N.M. Thomas (1976):

  • This judgement held that Article 23 does not prohibit compulsory service for public purposes, as long as such service is not forced or involuntary.
  • The Court also held that the state can impose compulsory service for public purposes only if it is necessary and in the public interest.

D.K. Basu v. State of West Bengal (1997):

  • This judgement held that the right to be free from forced labour is a fundamental right under Article 23 of the Constitution.
  • The Court also held that the state has a duty to protect this right and to take steps to prevent forced labour.

Criticism and Challenges

  • While Article 23 is a significant step towards protecting human rights, it faces certain challenges and criticisms.
  • One of the key challenges is the enforcement of the law in remote and marginalized areas where exploitation is prevalent.
  • Additionally, awareness about the provisions of Article 23 among vulnerable communities remains a concern.
  • Efforts to address these challenges are necessary to realize the full potential of this constitutional safeguard.

Significance and Impact

  • Article 23 holds immense significance as it ensures the protection of the fundamental rights and dignity of every individual.
  • It serves as a tool to combat exploitative practices and create a society where no person is subjected to forced labor, trafficking, or bonded labor.
  • The impact of Article 23 extends beyond legal provisions, fostering a culture of respect, empathy, and equality.


  • Article 23 of the Indian Constitution stands as a formidable bulwark against the exploitation and abuse of human beings.
  • It reinforces the fundamental rights enshrined in the constitution, protecting the dignity and freedom of individuals.
  • Through the prohibition of trafficking, forced labor, and bonded labor, this article paves the way for a more equitable and just society.


The articles you mentioned, Article 23 to 35, cover various aspects of fundamental rights granted to Indian citizens.

The fundamental rights of India are a set of basic human rights guaranteed to all citizens of the country. These rights are enshrined in Part III of the Indian Constitution and provide individuals with essential freedoms and protections. Here are the fundamental rights recognized in India:

1. Right to Equality: This includes equality before the law, prohibition of discrimination on grounds of religion, race, caste, sex, or place of birth, and equal protection of the law.

2. Right to Freedom: This includes the freedom of speech and expression, assembly, association, movement, residence, and the right to practice any profession, occupation, trade, or business.

3. Right against Exploitation: This includes the prohibition of trafficking, forced labor, and child labor. It also prohibits the employment of children in hazardous conditions.

4. Right to Freedom of Religion: This grants individuals the freedom to profess, practice, and propagate any religion of their choice. It also ensures the freedom to manage religious affairs.

5. Cultural and Educational Rights: This includes the right to protect one's language, script, and culture. It also grants minority communities the right to establish and administer educational institutions.

6. Right to Constitutional Remedies: This empowers individuals to seek legal remedies through writs such as habeas corpus, mandamus, prohibition, certiorari, and quo warranto to enforce their fundamental rights.

These fundamental rights are not absolute and are subject to reasonable restrictions in the interest of public order, morality, and the sovereignty and integrity of India. They provide citizens with essential safeguards and play a crucial role in upholding democracy, justice, and individual dignity in the country.

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