According to Global slavery index, 2016 , 18.3 million people are engaged in
modern slavery in India, 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 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.
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 hereTraffic 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
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.
. Thus, Begar is indeed an another form of forced labour
Other similar forms of forced labour ;- let me make it clear by the courts
In Ram Niwas vs Uoi & Ors
 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 the Calcutta
High Court while interpreting the expression ‘other similar forms of forced
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 People's Union for Democratic Rights and Other vs. Union of India
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
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
, 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.”
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.
- 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 by The SC
- 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 by Patna HC
- 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. Jorawarby the Himachal Pradesh
- 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 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.
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
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
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.
Written By: Hasnain Raza Athar
- AIR 1962 Bom 53
- Ram Niwas vs Uoi & Ors on 15 February, 2010 https://indiankanoon.org/doc/49321338/
- AIR 1958 Cal 365
- AIR 1982 SC 1473
- AIR 1983 SC 328
- AIR 1984 SC 802.
- AIR 1964 SC 72
- AIR 1967 Pat 114
- AIR 1953 HP 18
- AIR 1958 Cal 365
- AIR 1998 SC 3164
, Student at Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi.
Email: [email protected]