Article 23 in Constitution of India and Rights against Exploitation
23. Prohibition of traffic in human beings and forced labour
(1) Traffic in human beings and begar and other similar forms of forced labour are prohibited and any contravention of this provision shall be an offence punishable in accordance with law
(2) 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 religion, race, caste or class or any of them
GKToday Explains Article 23
Article 23 & 24 of Indian Constitution deal with the Right against Exploitation. Article 23 prohibits the traffic in human beings and forced labor such as begar.
Begar was a system in which government (yes, the British Government officers) and Zamindars used to compel the persons to carry their goods when they moved from one place to other place and this was a forced labor in which no remuneration was paid.
The Human Trafficking is the illegal trade in human beings for the purposes of commercial sexual exploitation, prostitution or forced labor. It is the modern form of slavery.
As per the provisions enshrined the constitution the government passed ” The Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act 1956 and ” The Bonded Labour System (Abolition) Act 1976.
- Even when the state takes up relief works such as famine or flood relief, it cannot pay less than minimum wages.
- When the prisoners are sent for the rigorous imprisonment, they must be paid reasonable wages. Please note that as per Supreme Court if a prisoner is not paid wages, it is NOT a violation of article 23. But if the under trials, persons sentences to simple imprisonments and those who have been detained under preventive detention can NOT be asked to do manual work. They can do work if they wish to do out of their choice and it would require equitable wages.
What is Bonded Labor?
Bonded Labour or Forced Labour is forbidden. The Forced Labour means not only the physical and legal force but also arising out of the compulsion of the economic circumstances.
In this context, the Supreme Court of India in People’s Union for Democratic Rights and others Vs. Union of India and others  also known as “Asiad Workers Case” gave the following explanation:
“We are, therefore, of the view that when a person provides labour of 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 the words “forced labour” under Article 23 (of the Constitution of India).”