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Article 23 Of Indian Constitution: Prohibition Of Forced Labour And Traffic In Human

Every community has been a culture of exploitation from the beginning of civilization. The stronger exploited the weak. Currently, exploitation is a widespread concern on a global scale. Every country has made several laws to protect humans against exploitation.

The largest democracy in the world is India. Our Indian Constitution provides essential rights that shield each person from exploitation in an effort to stop that practice. Human exploitation occurs in various ways, including forced labour, beggaring, human trafficking, etc. The Indian Constitution also outlaws and makes illegal the use of forced labour and human trafficking under Article 23.[1]

Superiority is the main reason for the exploitation of humans. Mainly a person exploited by forced labour that covers human trafficking and slavery. To control forced labour the government enacted many laws which deal with forced labour and our constitution also prohibits forced labour under Article 23 and makes it punishable. But Yet after the enactment of labour laws and making forced labour a serious offence, many people think they are superior and hence they exploit others with their power and money.

The weaker segments of society have historically worked in industries or have moved from one state to another or country to another in search of employment. These groups are then taken advantage of by industrial authorities. They do not get proper facilities to work nor a proper environment for work. Even they used to work more than their working hours and did not get any extra payment for their extra work.

To overcome these problems our labour code strictly prohibits the exploitation of workers and makes several laws for workers and industries.

What is forced labour?

Each person wants to perform or refrain from performing work at will. But many times, people have no option then to do the work because of many threats or pressures created by others. Forced labour is not a new issue in human society. Every strong person exploits a weak person by various means.

Forced labour is defined as any work that a person performs against his or her will while being subjected to compulsion, threat, or another form of force. This is a global issue and as per the research of global estimate of modern slavery (2022), more than 27.6 million people face or are trapped in forced labour.

People are frequently uneducated, underprivileged, and coerced into forced labour since they cannot support themselves. Lack of understanding is a typical factor that makes people, particularly Women and Children, victims of the abominable practice of forced work. Furthermore, due to the way, it is being abused by individuals or organisations to make him undertake additional labour in an improper setting.

Unlike unsafe working conditions, Forced Labour subjects an individual to inhuman and arbitrary actions of the oppressor. Following are the situations that can help understand if a person is trapped in forced labour
  • No proper visibility
  • No proper ventilation
  • Insufficient amount of food
  • Overtime working with no compensation for the work
  • Very low wages
  • No medical facility
  • Not fit for minimum standards of human survival

Contrary to unfair or unsafe working circumstances, forced labour is not those types of situations. There are several ways to tell when someone is being subjected to forced labour, including limits on their freedom of movement, the withholding of pay or identity documents, physical or sexual abuse, threats, and intimidation, or being trapped in an unforgivable debt.

The Supreme Court of India observed that forced labour may occur in a variety of ways, including physically, through the use of legal threats like the threat of jail time or a fine if an employee doesn't perform or complete their work or services, or even as a result of hunger, poverty, want, or destitution. Any circumstance that denies a person their freedom of choice and forces them to take a specific course of action is rightly recognized as a force

From time to time, the government made many laws to reduce forced labour and make it punishable under various laws.

Why Traffic in Humans?

Every human has the right to live their life with dignity and with his choice, but human trafficking snatched all these rights from the human and made him a prisoner.

Traffic in humans is an old problem in our society. In ancient times women and children were sold for slavery and prostitution. Traffic in humans means a human body used to sell and purchase goods from one person to another person or one country to another country for profit. The main purpose of human trafficking is to exploit humans (men, women, and children). When a person is trafficked, the person used to do sex work, slavery, and prostitution without his will. And the person has no way other than doing this work.

As of now, our constitution made it a serious offence and also punishable by various laws. Our constitution prohibits human trafficking, selling and buying men women, and children as goods, and immoral traffic in women and children, including prostitution, the devadasi system, and the slavery system. The main purpose of trafficking in humans is to exploit humans through sexual exploitation, prostitution, forced labour, begar, slavery, and removal of vital organs.

From time to time, our government makes laws to protect people from human trafficking. To protect a child from sexual exploitation government made a law "Protection of Children from sexual exploitation" (POCSO). To protect the trafficking of humans the Indian penal code. Sec 370 of the IPC states Buying or disposing of any person as a slave[2]. Immoral trafficking (Prevention Act 1956) is also made by the legislature for the prevention of trafficking for commercial sexual exploitation.

Devdasi system- this is an old concept to worship our god. Devadasi is a name given to a girl who has been 'committed' to a god at a temple for the rest of her life to worship and serve the god. This was particularly noticeable in southern and western India. Devadasi is a name given to a girl who has been 'committed' to a god at a temple for the rest of her life to worship and serve the god. This was particularly noticeable in southern and western India.

Beggar system

Humans have a life and for a good life, they need money. Every person got money from his work. Begar is a system where you don't get money for work. It means you will do all further work for free or for very low wages.[3] This is a very old practice in human society. In ancient times kings or zamindar used this system by giving debt to the people. When the people aren't able to pay the debt, the zamindar or the king uses the person as a beggar and does not pay any money for his further work.

In the current time, begar is an offence and it is strictly prohibited in the constitution. Our constitution prohibits the exploitation of people by begar and makes it an offence and punishable under the law. The Minimum Wages Act of 1948 dealt with these types of problems, In this act, the government set the lowest wages for workers, and if anyone paid less then that became an offence. The purpose of this act is to give a fair amount of money for work and no one exploits anyone.

Important legislations
These are some important pieces of legislation by the government to control the exploitation of humans:

Minimum Wage Act, 1948
A law passed by the Indian Parliament in 1948 called the Minimum Salaries Act establishes the minimum wages that both skilled and unskilled workers must receive. The Minimum Salaries Act granted both the Central and State governments the authority to set wages. The law is statutory but not binding. Forced labour is when wages are paid below the minimum wage rate.

The Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act, 1956:
Immoral traffic in women and girls is prohibited by the Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act, which was adopted by the Indian Parliament in 1956. Anyone who enters a brothel with the intent to sexually exploit trafficking people is subject to punishment. All of the offences specified in the bill would be prosecuted in secret, which would bar the general public from attending. Prostitution-related trafficking is punishable under this bill.[4]

The Trade Unions Act, 1926:
The Trade Union Act of 1926 ensures workers receive equitable pay and increases their chances for advancement and training. Protect tenure security and enhance their working circumstances. Boost the living and working environment for employees. Give them access to amenities for recreation, culture, and education.

Factories Act, 1948
The Factory Act of Great Britain, passed in 1937, was superseded by the more comprehensive Factory Act of 1948, which focuses primarily on health, safety, and the welfare of workers inside factories, as well as working hours, the minimum age to be employed, paid leave, and other issues.

Protection of Children from Sexual Offense Act, 2012
The "Protection of Children Against Sexual Offences Bill (POCSO), 2011" addressing child sexual abuse was approved by the Indian Parliament on May 22, 2012, becoming an Act to successfully combat the evils of child sexual exploitation and abuse. The main objective of this act is to protect the child from sexual offences.

Landmark judgement
Some landmark judgements deal with human exploitation i.e. forced labour, human trafficking, and slavery etc.

People's Union for Democratic Rights v. Union of India (1982)
In this case, Hon'ble Justice P.N. Bhagwati interpreted the actual intent of Article 23 in this particular case. It was held that this article's scope is quite broad and that it forbids all forms of forced labour. The court made it clear that the term "forced" refers to both the economic conditions that compel someone to perform this type of labour as well as the physical or mental pressure. As forced labour breaches the fundamental rights to life and human dignity, the court ordered the government to enact criminal laws against it. Further on the specific

Sanjit Roy v. State of Rajasthan (1983)
In this case, the Hon'ble Court held that This means that regardless of whether a person is impacted by drought or scarcity, the state must pay the minimum wage to any worker engaged by it in any famine relief activities. This is crucial to ensure that the state does not exploit the plight of those affected by famine, drought, etc., and preserves the principle that they must be properly paid for the labour they put forth effort and sweat into, which benefits the state.

The exploitation of humans is a global issue and society is directly affected by this. Men, women, and children are exploited by various means for various purposes. The government took many steps to reduce or end the exploitation of humans but due to superiority in society, superior people still exploit weak people. And the government still needs to control human exploitation. The Indian constitution grants the right to the person against exploitation and makes it punishable under several laws. Due to this the number of exploitation against humans decreased.


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