Right against Exploitation (Articles 23 & 24) –

The Right against Exploitation is provided under  Articles 23 and 24 of the Indian Constitution.  It is one among various important fundamental rights that assures that every citizen is protected from forced labour whether it be of any kind or nature.

Articles 23 and 24 of the Indian Constitution highlights about the Right Against Exploitation, dignity, and freedom of a person are inviolable. A person can not be forced into labour against their will which also includes other forms of forced labour and victims of human trafficking. All citizens must be aware of their rights as provided in  Constitution and also consequences in case of any violations of rights.


Right against Exploitation

Two articles of the Indian Constitution provide about right against exploitation which is as follows :

Article 23 – Prohibition of traffic in human beings and forced labour

Article 23(1): Traffic in human beings and the beggarand other similar forms of forced labour are prohibited and any contravention of this provision shall be an offense punishable in accordance with the law.

Article 23(2): Nothing in this article shall prevent the State from imposing compulsory service for public purposes, and in imposing such service the State shall not make any discrimination on grounds only of religion, race, caste, class, or any of them

  • Exploitation means and includes the misuse of others’ services by adopting force means and/or labour without payment.
  •  Many marginalized communities were forced to engage in activities like agricultural etc without payment.
  • Article 23  says forbidden of all exploitation forms
  •  In absence of will no one can be forced to engage in labour though remuneration against such work has been provided.
  •  Indian Constitution forbids forced labour, an instance of forced labour is when the payment made is less than minimum wages
  • This article provides that  ‘bonded labour’ would also be considered unconstitutional.
  • Bonded labour is said to occur when a person is forced to offer services out of a loan/debt that cannot be repaid.
  •  Coercion of any kind is to be considered unconstitutional, like forcing landless persons into labour and forcing helpless women into prostitution.
  • The Article also provides that trafficking would be considered unconstitutional.
  •  An activity is said to be trafficking which involves the buying and selling of men and women for illegal and immoral activities.
  •  Constitution has not clearly  ban ‘slavery’, but due to the wider scope of Article 23 which includes  the terms ‘forced labour’ and ‘traffic’.
  • Article 23 protects citizens  from State as well as from private persons .
  • The State is obliged to protect citizens from these by taking timely action against the person who commits such offense or also considered as crimes and also take such steps that such evils or practices are abolished from society.
  •  Article 35 of the Constitution provides powers to  the Parliament to frame laws regarding acts which are prohibited by Article 23..
  • Laws framed  by the Parliament in pursuance of Article 23:
    • Suppression of Immoral Traffic in Women and Girls Act, 1956
    • Bonded Labour System (Abolition) Act, 1976

Article 24 – Prohibition of employment of children in factories, etc.

Article 24 says that “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.”

  • This Article prohibits the employment of children who have not attained the age of 14 in industries like industry of hazardous  nature or factories or mines, subject to no exception.
  •  Though employment of children in industries that are non-hazardous in nature is permissible.

Laws  framed in pursuance of Article 24

The Factories Act, 1948

The first and foremost Act framed after independence provided for a minimum age limit for the employment of children in factories. The Act provided that the minimum age limit should be 14 years which was later on in 1954 amended to 17 years of age limit.

The Mines Act of 1952

This Act prohibits the employment of all in mines who have not attained the age of 18 years.

The Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act, 1986

This law was framed to curb the menace of child labour practice which was prevalent. It provided where and how children could be employed and where they are prohibited from employment. This Act provided that anyone who has not completed his/her 14 years of age would be considered a child.  The 1986 Act does not allow the employment of children in 13 occupations and 57 processes.

Child Labour (Prohibition & Regulation) Amendment Act, 2016

This Act prohibits the employment of children who have not attained 14 years of age  Furthermore it also prohibits employment of all those who are between the age limit of 14 to 18 in hazardous occupations and processes, in case of violations strict penal consequences were also been framed, however,  Act permits children to be employed in certain family occupations and also as artists.

Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Amendment Rules, 2017

The government notified the above Rules in 2017  in order to have the framework for the prevention, prohibition, rescue, and rehabilitation of child and adolescent workers.


Supreme Court Judgements :


Sanjit Roy vs State Of. Rajasthan on 20 January 1983

Equivalent citations: 1983 AIR 328, 1983 SCR (2) 271

Author: P Bhagwati

Bench: Bhagwati, P.N.

The court held that employment provided by the state to workers due to console them from scarcity does not allow the state to provide them wages lesser than minimum wages as prescribed in Act.


Deena @ Deena Dayal Etc. Etc vs Union Of India And Others on 23 September 1983

Equivalent citations: 1983 AIR 1155, 1984 SCR (1) 1

Author: Y Chandrachud

Bench: Chandrachud, Y.V. ((Cj)

The court held that in case prisoners are forced to do labour works without paying them reasonable wages then it shall be considered an infringement of Articles 23 and 24 of the constitution.


M.C. Mehta vs State Of Tamil Nadu And Others on 10 December 1996

Author: Hansaria

Bench: Kuldip Singh, B.L. Hansaria, S.B. Majmudar

The petitioner (M.C Mehta) in this case initiated a step regarding all those who have not attained the age of 14 years and were employed in factories in Tamil Naidu. The court held it is a violation of Article 24 of the Constitution of India.. Any child below the age group of 14 years shall not be exposed to hazardous working conditions and therefore it was provided by Court to industry to pay a huge amount of compensation


People’s Union For Democratic … vs Union Of India & Others on 18 September 1982

Equivalent citations: 1982 AIR 1473, 1983 SCR (1) 456

Author: P Bhagwati

The state provided employment to children who were below the age of 14 years for construction work. The court ordered a huge amount of compensation to the state and pass an order to take action to stop such types of exploitation


So to conclude this Article aims at protecting the dignity and freedom of a person. As mentioned above child labours, bonded labours, and victims of human trafficking are the most common exploitation witnessed in India. However, there are certain special laws have been framed for labourers and children to protect their dignity and freedom.

References :







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