CONTEMPORARY HUMAN RIGHTS ISSUES IN INDIA

Updated: Jun 19

Author: JAYANT GARG,

Amity Law School, Delhi

SUB THEME: LABOUR RIGHTS

The concept of Human Rights is not new, the respect for Human Rights in India is found in ancient scriptures and epics. Human rights have been historically considered in the realm of individual rights such as ‘right to health’, ‘right to livelihood’, ‘right to shelter and employment’, etc. The Human Rights movement is one of the struggles whose importance has actually started getting recognition after the Second World War through the instrumentality of world collective humanity through the formation of UNO and by UN Charter.

India has an unusually long written Constitution, which magnifies the concept of basic Human Rights before the law and of equal protection of laws within its territory mentioned in the Articles 14 and 15 of the Indian Constitution which prohibits discrimination on the basis of religion, race, caste, sex or nationality. The definition of Human Rights and its relation with a life of dignity has been elaborately dealt within our Constitution under sections 41, 42, 43, and 45. A report by National Human Rights Commission states that the Human Rights are those basic entitlement and freedom that make the lives meaningful, that is why Human Rights are sometimes called ‘Natural Rights’.


IMPORTANCE OF HUMAN RIGHTS

Human Rights recognize that each person is special with their own individual talents and abilities and that no one is inferior or superior to another. All persons are entitled to live their life with dignity and no one i.e., the State, the community, family or the society has any right to discriminate or to treat anyone unjustly.

The purposes of securing Human Rights as such, are

· To provide protection to the rights against the abuse of powers committed by the organs of the state.

· To promote the living conditions of Human beings by establishing institutions.

· To develop human personality.

· To provide remedial measures for obtaining compensation in case the rights are violated.


LABOUR RIGHTS:

Indian Constitution ensures equality before law and extends to citizens equal protection of the laws within the territory of India. Article 23 prohibits traffic in human beings and other forms of forced labor. Employment of children under the age of 14 in ant factory or mine or in any other hazardous employment is prohibited by Article 24.

Article 23:

Prohibition of traffic in human beings and forced labor.

1. Traffic in Human beings and beggar and other similar forms of forced labor 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 purposes and in imposing such service the State shall not make any discrimination on grounds only of religion, race, caste, class or any other.


EQUAL PAY FOR EQUAL WORK:

The Constitution of India declares “equal pay for equal work” for both men and women as an ideal to be translated into practice by the State. The concept of equal pay for equal work is a Fundamental Right under Article 14.

When the juniors were given higher pay than the seniors, who are in the same cader having same scale of pay, principles of equal pay for equal work, held not violated- State of Andhra Pradesh & Ors. v. G. Sreenivasa Rao and Ors. 1989 II LLN P.2(Supreme Court).


TRADE UNION:

For a long time Trade Unions were illegal bodies and persons taking part in their activities were liable to be punished. The All India Trade Union Congress (AITUC) was inaugurated in Bombay on the crest of waves of strikes unprecedented in Bombay Presidency in 1950. Municipality of Trade unions is a major cause responsible for the progress of trade unionism in India. Some of the factors are as follows:

1. Industrial Relations Law- The Trade Union Act, 1926 allows any seven persons to form a Union. This makes easy the formation of a number of unions in an industry.

2. Union Leadership- Trade Union leaders are mostly political leaders who differ from each other in ideology, approach and political orientation.

RIGHT TO STRIKE:

The popularity of Trade Unions were beneficial for labors as they could put forth their demands in front of the concerned authorities through contesting strikes without having the fear of getting fired and hence led to happier labors.

Strike may be viewed as a weapon of the workmen to bring pressure on the employer to redress particular grievance. However, strikes are organized to protect against the arbitrary actions of the management and the government as well.

REMUNERATION:

The remuneration to be paid by the employer to the employee is usually fixed after negotiations. The sum payable is one of the principle terms of the contract of employment. If the employee was dissatisfied with the situation of work, he could terminate the contract by giving notice.

Article 24:

Prohibition of employment of children in factories etc. No child below the age of 14 years shall be employed to work in any factory or mine or engaged in any other hazardous work.

CHILD LABOUR:

Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act, 1986 is a social welfare legislation aiming at to prohibit the engagement of children in certain employments and to regulate the conditions of work of children in certain other employments. A child means a person who has not attained his fourteenth year of age.

HOURS AND PERIOD OF WORK:

· No child shall be required or permitted to work in any establishments in excess of such number of hours as maybe prescribed.

· No child shall be permitted or required to work between 7:00p.m. to 8:00am.

· No child shall be required or permitted to work overtime.

WEEKLY HOLIDAYS:

Every child employed in an establishment shall be allowed iin each week, a holiday of one whole day which they shall be specified by the occupier in a notice permanently exhibited.

MAINTENANCE OF REGISTER:

There shall be maintained by every occupier in respect of children employed or permitted to work in an establishment a register to be available for inspection by an inspector at all times during working hours.

Various acts have been introduced over the years introducing new laws to help the labors like:

· Contract Labor Act,1970,

· Employees’ Provident Funds and Miscellaneous Provisions Act, 1952,

· Employees’ State Insurance Act, 1948,

· Factories Act, 1948,

· Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act, 1986

· The Dangerous Machines (Regulations) Act, 1952

· The Minimum Wages Act, 1948

· The Payment of Wages Act, 1936



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