Right Against Exploitation

Article 23 – Prohibition of traffic in human beings and forced labour
(1) Traffic in human beings and 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.
(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.

Article 24 – Prohibition of employment of children in factories, etc.
No child below the age of fourteen years shall be employed to work in any factory or mine or engaged in any other hazardous employment.


Article 23 prohibits traffic in human beings, begar (forced labour) and other similar forms of forced labour. Any contravention of this provision shall be an offence punishable in accordance with law. This right is available to both citizens and non-citizens. It protects the individual not only against the State but also against private persons.

The expression ‘traffic in human beings’ include (a) selling and buying of men, women and children like goods; (b) immoral traffic in women and children, including prostitution; (c) devadasis; and (d) slavery. To punish these acts, the Parliament has made the Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act13, 1956.

The term ‘begar ’ means compulsory work without remuneration. It was a peculiar Indian system under which the local zamindars sometimes used to force their tenants to render services without any payment.

In addition to begar, the Article 23 prohibits other ‘similar forms of forced labour’ like ‘bonded labour’. The term ‘forced labour’ means compelling a person to work against his will. The word ‘force’ includes not only physical or legal force but also force arising from the compulsion of economic circumstances, that is, working for less than the minimum wage. In this regard, the Bonded Labour System (Abolition) Act, 1976; the Minimum Wages Act, 1948; the Contract Labour Act, 1970 and the Equal Remuneration Act, 1976 were made.

Article 23 also provides for an exception to this provision. It permits the State to impose compulsory service for public purposes, as for example, military service or social service, for which it is not bound to pay. However, in imposing such service, the State is not permitted to make any discrimination on grounds only of religion, race, caste or class.


Article 24 prohibits the employment of children below the age of 14 years in any factory, mine or other hazardous activities like construction work or railway. But it does not prohibit their employment in any harmless or innocent work.

The Child Labour (Prohibition and Regula-tion) Act, 1986, is the most important law in this direction. In addition, the Employment of Children Act, 1938; the Factories Act, 1948; the Mines Act, 1952; the Merchant Shipping Act, 1958; the Plantation Labour Act, 1951; the Motor Transport Workers Act, 1951; Apprentices Act, 1961; the Bidi and Cigar Workers Act, 1966; and other similar acts prohibit the employment of children below certain age.

In 1996, the Supreme Court directed the establishment of Child Labour Rehabilitation Welfare Fund in which the offending employer should deposit a fine of Rs.20,000 for each child employed by him. It also issued directions for the improvement of education, health and nutrition of children.

The Commissions for Protection of Child Rights Act, 2005 was enacted to provide for the establishment of a National Commission and State Commissions for Protection of Child Rights and Children’s Courts for providing speedy trial of offences against children or of violation of child rights.

In 2006, the government banned the employment of children as domestic servants or workers in business establishments like hotels, dhabas, restaurants, shops, factories, resorts, spas, tea-shops and so on. It warned that anyone employing children below 14 years of age would be liable for prosecution and penal action.