Article 24 of the Indian Constitution: Prohibition of employment of children in factories, etc.

Article 24 of the Indian Constitution: Prohibition of employment of children in factories, etc.
Posted on 09-07-2023

Article 24 of the Indian Constitution: Prohibition of employment of children in factories, etc.

Article 24 of Part III of the Indian Constitution is a fundamental right that prohibits the employment of children in hazardous industries or occupations. This provision aims to protect the rights and welfare of children by ensuring that they are not subjected to exploitative labor practices and are provided with opportunities for education and development. In this essay, I will provide a comprehensive explanation of Article 24, its historical background, interpretation, scope, exceptions, and significance within the Indian legal framework.


1. Historical Background:

The inclusion of Article 24 in the Indian Constitution can be traced back to the social and labor reforms movements of the early 20th century. During the colonial era, child labor was rampant in various industries and occupations, resulting in the exploitation and deprivation of children's rights. The framers of the Indian Constitution recognized the need to address this issue and ensure the protection of children's rights and development. Article 24 was thus incorporated to provide constitutional safeguards against child labor and promote the welfare of children.


2. Text of Article 24:

Article 24 of the Indian Constitution reads as follows:

"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."


3. Interpretation and Scope:

a. Prohibition of Employment: Article 24 strictly prohibits the employment of children below the age of fourteen years in any factory, mine, or hazardous occupation. The provision recognizes that children at this age require special care, protection, and education, and should not be exposed to hazardous working conditions or labor-intensive industries.

b. Definition of Hazardous Employment: The term "hazardous employment" encompasses occupations or industries that are deemed dangerous or harmful to the physical, mental, or moral well-being of children. The precise definition of hazardous employment is determined by relevant legislations and regulations enacted by the Parliament. These laws take into account factors such as the nature of work, working conditions, exposure to harmful substances, risk of injury, and adverse effects on the child's health and development.


4. Exceptions and Applicability:

a. Limited Scope of the Prohibition: Article 24 specifically targets the employment of children in factories, mines, and hazardous occupations. It does not impose a blanket ban on all forms of child labor. Therefore, children may still be engaged in non-hazardous occupations or industries, provided the work is not detrimental to their health, well-being, or education.

b. Constitutional Safeguards: While Article 24 provides a general prohibition on the employment of children in factories, mines, and hazardous occupations, it does not preclude the enactment of laws that provide additional safeguards for child labor prevention and rehabilitation. The State is empowered to enact laws that impose stricter regulations and protections for children, ensuring their rights and welfare are safeguarded.

c. Right to Education: Article 24 is closely linked to the Right to Education, which is enshrined as a fundamental right under Article 21A of the Indian Constitution. The Right to Education Act, 2009, further reinforces the prohibition of child labor by guaranteeing free and compulsory education to all children between the ages of six and fourteen years. This act complements the provisions of Article 24 and emphasizes the importance of education in securing the rights and development of children.


5. Enforcement and Penalties:

The enforcement of Article 24 involves both legislative and judicial measures:

a. Legislative Measures: The Parliament has enacted several laws to give effect to the principles enshrined in Article 24. The most notable legislation in this regard is the Child and Adolescent Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act, 1986. This act provides a comprehensive framework for the prevention, regulation, and rehabilitation of child labor. It prescribes penalties for the employment of children in prohibited occupations and provides for the rehabilitation and social integration of rescued child laborers.

b. Judicial Pronouncements: The Supreme Court of India has played a crucial role in interpreting and upholding the rights enshrined in Article 24. It has issued guidelines and directives to address child labor effectively, including measures for the identification, rescue, and rehabilitation of child laborers. The Court has emphasized the need for strict enforcement, public awareness, and the prosecution of offenders to eliminate child labor and ensure the rights and welfare of children.


6. Significance and Challenges:

Article 24 holds significant importance in protecting the rights and welfare of children in India. By prohibiting their employment in hazardous industries or occupations, it seeks to ensure their safety, education, and overall development. However, despite the legal framework and efforts to combat child labor, several challenges persist:

a. Poverty and Socio-economic Factors: Poverty remains a significant driver of child labor, as families facing economic hardships often rely on the income generated by their children. Addressing the root causes of child labor, such as poverty and socio-economic disparities, requires comprehensive measures that go beyond legal provisions.

b. Enforcement and Implementation: Effective enforcement of laws and regulations related to child labor is crucial. This involves robust mechanisms for inspections, monitoring, and prosecution of violators. Strengthening the capacity of enforcement agencies and promoting interagency cooperation can contribute to more effective implementation.

c. Awareness and Social Attitudes: Raising awareness about the consequences of child labor and promoting a change in social attitudes are essential. This involves sensitizing communities, parents, employers, and children themselves about the importance of education and the harmful effects of child labor.

d. Rehabilitation and Social Integration: Rescued child laborers require proper rehabilitation, including access to education, healthcare, and social support systems. Ensuring their successful reintegration into society and preventing relapses into exploitative labor situations is a crucial aspect of combating child labor.


In conclusion, Article 24 of the Indian Constitution prohibits the employment of children below the age of fourteen years in factories, mines, and hazardous occupations. It reflects the commitment of the Indian Constitution to protect the rights and welfare of children and ensure their education and development. Through legislative measures and judicial pronouncements, the Indian legal framework aims to effectively enforce the provisions of Article 24, combat child labor, and secure a better future for children in India.

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