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Right against Exploitation


RIGHT means having legal permission to do anything or not to do anything that the person wishes for but not for the sake of others or for the benefit for others. The people who are low in financial status or who do not know their actual rights in this country are being exploited by other people. Many people force themselves to be exploited because of their poverty. Children are forced to work at very low wages in a very unhealthy situation. The person is called as a begar or bonded labour, when he/she work without wages to repay loans which were bought by them earlier for many years, even it passes to their generation when their loans are unpaid. Indian society has historically been bureaucratic and has in many ways promoted exploitation. Exploitation not only includes forced labour and employment of children in factories or mines or any other places but also the trafficking of human beings. So, right against exploitation helps to protect the citizens from forced work. The practice of exploitation is inconsistent with the Directive Principles of State Policy wherein under Article 39 it strives to promote economic equality between the individual. In brief, it violates the preamble and the basic principle of the Indian Constitution,

 The Right against Exploitation:

India consists of many marginalized communities. Individuals were forced to engage in manual and agricultural labour without any payment. If labour is paid less-than-minimum wages then it is considered as forced labour and it is forbidden by Article 23 of the Indian Constitution. Bonded labour is when a person is asked to provide service and is manipulated for the same reason as a loan/debt that is owed by him/her. The Constitution makes exploitation illegal in any way. It is, therefore, unconstitutional to force landless people to work and to force helpless women into prostitution. The Article also makes trafficking unconstitutional. Trafficking involves buying and selling men and women for illegal and immoral purposes. Article 23 safeguards citizens not only against the State but also against citizens. Article 24 of the Indian Constitution forbids, without exception, the work of children under the age of 14 in any dangerous industry, or factories or mines but the children’s employment in a non-hazardous job is approved.

People’s Union of Democratic Rights:

For the purpose of protecting the Democratic Rights of the people, they formed an organization and it is called the People’s Union for Democratic Rights (PUDR)[1]. Three social scientists undertook the efforts to investigate the working conditions of the workers employed in various Asiad projects. This investigation found that there were violations of various labor laws and, consequently, Public Interest Litigation (PIL) was initiated. It was alleged that there were violations of equal rights to the women workers, they were paid less, and remaining wages were misappropriated by the zamindars and it comes under provision of Equal Remuneration Act, 1976. The constructors employed children who were below the age of 14 in the construction work and in for other projects as well and thereby violating Article 24 of the Constitution. There were also violations of the Contract Labour (Regulation and Abolition) Act, 1970. When a person provides their service to another person or employer for remuneration which is less than the minimum wage, it falls under the scope of “forced labour” under Article 23. It is obvious that would be no one who would willingly provide their service for less than the minimum wage. It is contended that when a person is used to work for a remuneration that is below the minimum wage then it is considered as forced labour. So, the Fundamental Rights of the workers should be protected by the State and it is their duty to enact and enforce them.

Flesh Trade:

Many unfortunate teen-aged children and girls in full bloom are being sold by their own parents to various parts of the country, for a paltry sum, and hope that their children will be engaged only in household duties or manual labour but it is not so. The person who act as pimps or brokers in the ‘flesh trade’ and brothel keepers who are hunting for these teenage children and young girls to make money either by buying or kidnapping them by deceitful means and unjustly and forcibly blinding them to ‘flesh trade’.[2] The writ petition was filed under Article 32 in the Supreme Court by the way of Public Interest Litigation (PIL). It was stated that the Devadasi system and Jogin tradition that still prevails in certain parts of the world should be ended. The plea is to save the young children and girls who were forced into ‘flesh trade ‘and rehabilitate them. To rescue and provide adequate medical assistance, shelter, education and training to victims of commercial sexual exploitation in different disciplines of life so that they can choose a more dignified way of life. Article 23 comes under Fundamental Rights of the Constitution which says that trafficking of human beings and others similar things are prohibited by Right against Exploitation and any contravention of the same is an offence punishable under the Law. The court noted that this epidemic is not only a social problem but also a socio-economic one and that the steps to be taken in this regard should therefore be more preventive rather than punitive.

Child Labour:

When a child is born in India it is not pleasant for them to grow up in this country, where their economic rights are deprived in their childhood and these children face physical and mental problems. Child Labour is a major problem in India. Our Constitution makers knew that if the children in this Country were not nurtured and educated then India would not be a reality of their vision. So Article 24 imposes a duty on the State to provide free and compulsory education to every child below the age of 14 and it is one of the two provisions of the Constitution which states Fundamental Rights against Exploitation. In the case of M.C. Mehta vs. State of Tamil Nadu, Sivakasi was regarded as one of the worst regions in violation of these provisions by employing young children at their match factories[3]. The court noted that match and fireworks manufacturing processes are hazardous to children’s health and may result in fatal accidents. The provisions of Article 39(f) and 45 of the Constitution gave some guidance as to how to improve the quality of life of children working in factories. The court also felt that a committee had to be formed to oversee the directions given by them.

Bandhua Mukti Morcha:

Bandhua Mukti Morcha is an NGO that works for the welfare of the people. A survey was conducted by them and they found that some stone quarries in Faridabad were unhygienic and unsuitable for the work for the persons who have come from all over the country to the state of Haryana[4]. It was alleged that the whole atmosphere in the stone quarries is full of dust and it was very difficult for the workers to breathe. Some of the workers were not allowed to leave and they were treated as forced labour. There was no facility for hygienic food or drinking water, they were not provided with proper shelter, some of the workmen were suffering from chronic diseases and there was no compensation paid to the person who was injured during their work and most importantly there was no hospital or medical facility. Article 32 of the Constitution says that every Indian citizen has the right to move to the Supreme Court to seek justice when their right has been unduly deprived, so in this case it was alleged that there was a violation of the fundamental right and liberty of workers[5] who were said to be held in unlawful and illegal detention and were employed as forced labour. Article 23 of the Constitution prohibits forced labour. In this judgment, the working conditions of the bonded laborers were uplifted.


                   “It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men”-Frederick Douglass

Every child in India must receive education, acquire knowledge of man and materials, and flourish in such an atmosphere that when he reaches age, he finds himself to be a man with a mission, a man who matters to society. This will happen only when the exploitation of the child, trafficking of girls, beggar, and other forms of forced labour come to an end. Children’s rights need specific protection and objectives, not just to provide such protection, but also to ensure the constant improvement of children’s situation not just throughout the country but also throughout the world.

[1] 1983 SCR (1) 456

[2]AIR 1412, 1990 SCR (2) 861

[3] AIR 1997 SC 699, (1996) 6 SCC 756

[4] AIR 802, 1984 SCR (2) 67

[5] Indian Kanoon, Article 32 in the Constitution Of India 1949,





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