The War Against Human Exploitation

Author: Shweta Pandey Student, Bharati Vidyapeeth, New Law College, Pune

Introduction

Articles 23 and 24, though Fundamental Rights, lay dormant for almost thirty-two years after the constitution came into force and there was hardly any significant judicial pronouncement concerning these constitutional provisions. Since 1982, however, these articles have assumed great significance and have become potent instruments in the hands of the court to ameliorate the pitiable condition of the poor in the country.

According to article 23(1), traffic in human beings, beggar, and other similar forms of forced labour are prohibited and any contravention of this provision shall be an offence punishable in accordance with law. Article 23(1) prescribes three unsocial practices

  1. Beggar

  2. Trafficking of human beings

  3. Forced Labour

A significant feature of Article 23 is that it protects the individuals not only against the State but also against private citizens. Therefore this research paper would be throwing light upon the ways by which the Indian Constitution has made provisions to safeguard the citizens from exploitation. Most of the Fundamental Rights operate as limitations on the power of state and impose negative obligations on the state not to encroach on individual liberty and the rights are only enforceable against the State. But there are certain Fundamental Rights which are enforceable against the world. Article 23 is not limited in its application against the State, but strikes at such practices wherever they are found, and, thus, the sweep of Article 23 is wide and unlimited.

Aims and objectives of the research

The aim of this research work is to:

  1. To show the importance of protection of human from trafficking and forced labour.

  2. To show the immoral practices of labour still existing in the society.

  3. To improve the existing laws safeguarding the humankind from forced labour.

  4. To spread awareness about the provisions that are there to help the people suffering with the problem of forced labour.

Literature Review

The required information have been taken from the following:

Book:

  1. Constitutional law of India – By Dr. J. N. Pandey

  2. Indian Constitutional Law—By P Jain

Websites:

  1. Manupatra

  2. SSC Law

  3. indiankanoon.com

  4. lexisnexis.com

Statement of Problem

This research paper would be discussing about the problems which the common man has to face due to forced labour. One of the major problems that arise is that the individuals have to work under undesirable circumstances. They do not intend to work at places where they have to do tasks which are below their dignity. But with thought of running a family smoothly and therefore earning wages they agree to work. Some of the examples of such forced and undesirable labour are:

  1. Prostitution- The expression “traffic in human beings” used in Article 23(1) commonly known as slavery, implies the buying and selling of human beings as if they are cattle’s , and such a practice is abolished by Article 23(1). But the expression is a very wide one and includes the prohibition of traffic in women for immoral purposes.

In spite of this Act and other legal provisions found in the Indian Penal Code, the evil of prostitution still prevails. This malady is not only a social but also a socio-economic problem. The malady can only be eradicated only if the law enforcing authorities take a very severe and speedy action against all erring persons.

Accordingly, in Vishal Jeet vs. Union of India; the Supreme Court has directed the state government to instruct their law enforcing authorities to take action under the law to eradicate child prostitution.

The question of rehabilitation of prostitutes and their children was again brought before the Supreme Court in Gaurav Jain vs. Union of India through a public interest litigation under Article 32. A two Judge Bench took cognisance of the matter. The Court issued several directions relating to the rehabilitation of the children of the prostitutes, child prostitutes and establishment of juvenile homes for them.

  1. Child labour

A critical human and economic problem is that of child labour. Poor parents seek to augment their meagre income through employment of their children. Employers of children also stand to gain financially.

 It is realised that a total ban on child labour may not be socially feasible in the socio-economic environment of the country. Accordingly, Article 24 puts only a partial restriction on employment of child labour.

Article 24 prohibits the employment of a child below the age of 14 years to work in any factory or mine, or in any other hazardous employment. The Supreme Court has emphasized in Asiad that Article 24 embodies a Fundamental Right “which is plainly and indubitably enforceable against everyone.” By reason of the impulsive mandate in Article 24, no one can employ a child below the age of fourteen years in a hazardous employment like construction work. It is also the duty of the Union Government, State Government and other government bodies to ensure that the contractors to whom they have entrusted construction work also obey this obligation.

Hypothesis  

Through this research paper the assumption that can be derived is that the cases of human trafficking, forced labour, beggary etc. have gradually decreased over the years and that such provisions have been made stringent enough to fight against this filthy cause.

Research methodology

My research is purely doctrinal in nature. I have taken information from various books and websites mentioned above. I have also used case laws to support my research work. The motive behind doing a doctrinal research was to compare the current situation of human trafficking cases with the state of such cases before the laws were made stringent. We can also see that the reports of such cases have been discussed in the court and fair judgements have been made keeping in mind the state of the common man.

Conclusion

Children constitute the nations human resources. The future well-being of the nation depends on how its children grow and develop. In this context child labour and child work are two different things. All work is not bad for children because some light work properly structured and phased is not child labour. This implies that work which does not detract from other essential activities for children like leisure, play, study are not child labour. But the people found guilty of employing children to hazardous work but be fined with a hefty amount or imprisonment or both. People guilty of human trafficking and exploitation must be given severe punishments so that they do not have the guts to exploit mankind.

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