Exploitation in the form of slavery, human trafficking, or any other form of forced labor has been prevalent in this mortal world since time immemorial. Instances of negroes being treated as slaves are not new. Child trafficking and women trafficking for immoral or any other purposes have also caught serious attention from ever. Exploitation of a human being is against the right to life and liberty of an individual.
In Indian context, Article 21 advocates for a dignified life to be the true meaning of right to life. Freedom of an individual finds place in The Constitution of India in the preamble, Article 19 and Article 21. Articles 23 and 24 provide furtherance to the freedoms of an individual. There are certain catch words in Article 23 and Article 24 of The Constitution of India which should be paid special attention i.e. “forced labor”, “begar”, “human trafficking (specially women and children) and “hazardous employment”. Another point worthy to be noted here is that these principles point towards the welfare provisions in the nation, and therefore, are followed up under Part IV of The Constitution of India as well (Directive Principles of State Policy).
Article 23 of The Constitution of India prohibits human trafficking and forced labor. Begar has also been prohibited under the same. Begar means involuntary work without payment. It should also be noted that forced labor in any form has been prohibited. This implies that any kind of bonded service shall fall within its ambit and is barred from practiced. A person employed but not paid sufficiently also falls under the same category. (for details go through people’s Union for Democratic Rights v. UOI)
However, the state can enforce compulsory public service upon a person. For example, punishing a person for some offence by making him/her do some public service shall not be called forced labor. (A person who did some public wrong may be ordered to clean the road daily for an entire week or month. This practice will not be called forced labor)
By Subhani Chaudhary