“Right Against Exploitation” in the Indian Constitution

Introduction


  • TheRight against Exploitationis a fundamental right enshrined in Articles 23 and 24 of the Indian Constitution.
  • These provisions reflect the nation’s commitment to eradicating exploitative practices and protecting the dignity of every individual, regardless of their social or economic status.

Historical Context


  • The roots of the “Right against Exploitation” can be traced back to India’s colonial history, where numerous communities were subjected to oppressive practices such as forced labor, human trafficking, and bonded labor by the colonial rulers.
  • The framers of the Constitution, deeply aware of these injustices, sought to establish a just and egalitarian society by embedding provisions that would eliminate exploitation.

Understanding the Right Against Exploitation


  • The right against exploitation is a fundamental right that encapsulates the spirit of a just and equitable society.
  • It primarily encompasses two dimensions:
  1. Article 23- Prohibition of Forced Labor and Human Trafficking
  2. Article 24- Prohibition of Child Labor

Prohibition of Forced Labor and Human Trafficking


  • Article 23 of the Indian Constitution abolishes the practice of forced labor.
  • It states that no individual shall be compelled to work against their will and that no one should be subjected to servitude.
  • This provision seeks to eliminate the remnants of bonded labor and modern-day slavery that have long plagued the Indian society.
  • By guaranteeing the right to live with dignity, free from the chains of forced labor, the Constitution acknowledges the intrinsic worth and liberty of every citizen.

Prohibition of Child Labor


  • Article 24 of the Constitution extends the protection against exploitation to children.
  • It prohibits the employment of children under the age of 14 years in hazardous occupations.
  • This provision reflects the nation’s commitment to ensuring that the future of India is not compromised by exploitative practices.
  • It stands as a safeguard against the physical and psychological harm that children could face in hazardous workplaces.

Eradicating Exploitation: A Collective Responsibility


  • The right against exploitation is not merely a legal provision; it embodies a societal responsibility to create an environment where every individual is treated with respect and fairness.
  • Eradicating exploitation necessitates collective efforts from the government, civil society, and the citizens themselves.

Legislative and Policy Interventions:

  • The Indian government has enacted several laws to give teeth to the constitutional provisions against exploitation.
  • The Bonded Labour System (Abolition) Act, the Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act, and various other legislations are aimed at curbing exploitative practices and safeguarding the rights of vulnerable individuals.

Empowerment Through Education:

  • Education is a powerful tool to break the cycle of exploitation.
  • By ensuring that children have access to quality education, society can uplift future generations from the clutches of child labor and exploitation.
  • Education equips individuals with the knowledge and skills needed to lead fulfilling lives and contribute positively to the nation’s progress.

Creating Awareness:

  • Raising awareness about the rights against exploitation is essential to empower individuals to recognize and resist such practices.
  • NGOs, community organizations, and media play a crucial role in disseminating information and encouraging people to report instances of exploitation.

Strengthening the Justice System:

  • Efficient and accessible legal mechanisms are vital to ensure justice for victims of exploitation.
  • Speedy trials and appropriate penalties for violators act as deterrents, sending a clear message that exploitation will not be tolerated.

Laws enacted in accordance with Article 24


  • Article 24 of the Indian Constitution pertains to the prohibition of employment of children in factories, etc.
  • Below are some of the laws that have been passed in pursuance of Article 24 in India to regulate and prevent the employment of children in certain hazardous occupations and processes:

The Factories Act, 1948 (Amendment)

  • This act was amended to include provisions that restrict the employment of children below the age of 14 years in factories.
  • It also outlines the conditions and restrictions under which adolescents (between 15 and 18 years) can be employed.

The Mines Act, 1952 (Amendment)

  • Amendments to this act prohibit the employment of children under 18 years in mines and regulate the working conditions for adolescents in mines.

The Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act, 1986

  • This is a comprehensive legislation that prohibits the employment of children below 14 years in certain hazardous occupations and processes.
  • It also regulates the working conditions for adolescents between 14 and 18 years in non-hazardous occupations.

The Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act, 2009 (RTE Act)

  • While not directly related to Article 24, the RTE Act guarantees free and compulsory education to children between the ages of 6 and 14.
  • It indirectly supports the aim of preventing child labor by ensuring that children have access to education.

The Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015

  • This act provides for the care, protection, and rehabilitation of children in need of care and protection.
  • It also addresses issues related to child labor and exploitation.

The Bonded Labour System (Abolition) Act, 1976

  • While not directly related to Article 24, this act prohibits bonded labor, which often involves children.
  • It aims to prevent and abolish all forms of forced labor.
  • These laws collectively aim to protect the rights of children and ensure that they are not subjected to hazardous work or exploitation.
  • They establish a legal framework for the prohibition and regulation of child labor in India.

Conclusion


  • The right against exploitation is a testament to the values enshrined in the Indian Constitution.
  • It reflects the nation’s commitment to protecting the dignity and rights of every citizen, especially the vulnerable.
  • The journey towards eradicating exploitation is ongoing, requiring continuous efforts to build a just and equitable society.
  • By upholding the principles of freedom, equality, and justice, India can truly honor the spirit of its Constitution and ensure a brighter future for all.

Article 23 of the Indian Constitution guarantees the right against exploitation. It prohibits all forms of forced labour, child labour, and human trafficking.

The article states that:

  • Traffic in human beings and beggar and other similar forms of forced labour are prohibited and any contravention of this provision shall be an offence punishable in accordance with the law.
  • Nothing in 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 grounds only of religion, race, caste or class or any of them.
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