Right Against Exploitation of Child in India


Right Against Exploitation of Child in India


The Right against Exploitation is enshrined in Articles 23 and 24 of the Indian Constitution. These are important Fundamental Rights that guarantee every citizen protection from any kind of forced labour. In this article, you can read all about the right against exploitation, other forms of forced labour and exploitation include bonded labour, child labour, and victims of human trafficking. All these forms of exploitation dignity and freedom of a person. Let’s discuss them in detail

According to the Indian constitution: –

  • Article 23 of the Constitution, amended in 2014, includes the following provisions: Traffic in human beings, beggary and other similar forms of forced labour are prohibited and any contravention of this provision shall be an offence punishable in accordance with law.
  • Article 24 Prohibition of employment of children in factories, etc. It states 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 forbids the employment of children below the age of 14 in any hazardous industry or factories or mines, without exception. However, the employment of children in non-hazardous work is allowed.

Established of the NCPCR

The National Commission for the Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) is an Indian Government Commission established in 2007 under the Commission for Protection of Child Rights Act, 2005. The objective of this statutory body is to ensure all the laws, policies, programmes and administrative mechanisms are in accordance with the provisions of child rights enshrined under the Indian Constitution and the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.

Cases related to the Article 23: –

  • In the case of People’s Union for Democratic Rights v. Union of India [1], the Supreme Court interpreted the ambit of Article 23. Bhagwati J. held as follows- “The scope of Article 23 is vast and unlimited. It is not merely ‘beggar’ which is prohibited under this Article. This Article strikes at forced labour in whichever form it may exist as it violates human dignity and opposes the basic human values. Hence, every form of forced labour is prohibited by Article 23 without considering whether forced labour is being paid or not. Also, no person shall be forced to provide labour or services against his will even if it is mentioned under a contract of service. The word ‘force’ has a very wide meaning under Article 23. It not only includes physical or legal force but also recognizes economic circumstances which compel a person to work against his will on less than minimum wage. It was directed by the court to Government to take necessary steps punishing the violation of the fundamental rights of the citizens guaranteed under Article 23 by private individuals.”
  • In Sanjit Roy v. State of Rajasthan [2], the State employed people for certain work under the Famine Relief Act. The people were badly hit by famine; thus, the State employed them. However, these people were paid even below the minimum wages on the ground that the money is given to help them in meeting the famine situation. Bhagwati J. held that- “The payment of wages lower than the minimum wage to a person employed in Famine Relief Work is violative under Article 23. The State is not allowed to take undue advantage of the helplessness of such people with an excuse of helping them to meet the situation of famine or drought.”
  • In Deena v. Union of India [3], it was held by Chandrachur C. J. that-

“The labours taken from the prisoners without paying remuneration was ‘forced labour’ and violative of Article 23 of the Constitution. The prisoners are entitled to payment of reasonable wages for the work taken from them and the Court is under a duty to enforce their claim.”

Cases related to the Article 24: –

  • In People’s Union for Democratic Rights v. Union of India [4], some people including few children below the age of 14 were employed in the construction work of the Asiad Project in Delhi. It was contended that the Employment of Children Act, 1938 was not applicable in the case of children employed in construction work since construction industries were not specified in the schedule of the Children Act. Bhagwati J. held that- “The contention given by the Government is not at all acceptable. The construction work is hazardous employment and therefore, the children below 14 years must not be employed in the construction work even if the construction work is not specifically mentioned under the schedule of the Employment of Children Act, 1938. The State Government is advised to take immediate necessary steps in order to include the construction work in the schedule of the Act and to ensure that Article 24 is not violated on any part of the country.”
  • In the case of M. C. Mehta v. State of Tamil Nadu[5], a public lawyer M. C. Mehta filed a PIL under Article 32 and informed the court about how the children are engaged in Sivakasi Cracker Factories. Although the Constitution prohibits exploitation and employment of children under Article 24, it also directs the State to provide free and compulsory education to them under Article 41 and still there exists a large number of children working in hazardous places. Despite the Constitutional provisions and various enactments passed by many State Governments prohibiting child labour, the issue of child labour has remained unsolved and is becoming a menace to society day by day. It was held by Hansaraj J. that- “The children below 14 years cannot be employed in hazardous activities and state must lay down certain guidelines in order to prevent social, economic and humanitarian rights of such children working illegally in public and private sector. Also, it is violative of Article 24 and it is the duty of the state to ensure free and compulsory education to them. It was further directed to establish Child Labour Rehabilitation Welfare Fund and to pay compensation of Rs. 20,000 to each child.”


That brings us to the end of this article on Right Against Exploitation under Articles 23 and 24 of the Indian Constitution. This article aims at protecting the dignity and freedom of a person. As we discussed child labours, bonded labours, and victims of human trafficking are the most common exploitation witnessed in India. 


  1.  People’s Union for Democratic Rights v. Union of India [1],SC
  2. In Sanjit Roy v. State of Rajasthan [2],SC
  3. In Deena v. Union of India [3],SC
  4. People’s Union for Democratic Rights v. Union of India [4],SC
  5. M. C. Mehta v. State of Tamil Nadu [5]

Author:- Tarushi, B.A.LL.B.(9th Sem.), a Student of Saraswati Institution of Law

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