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Labour Legislations and Fundamental Rights

This article is written by Ashi Chouksey, student of Institute of Law, Nirma University

Labour laws are the laws which govern the alliance between employer and workmen, workmen and workmen, and employer and employer. It tries to do justice with the laborers in relation to the work they do and the remuneration that is paid to them, to avoid or diminish any kind of discrimination or exploitation, and encourage trade unions to work actively.

Fundamental rights are the rights that are mentioned in The Constitution of India in Part III from Article 12 to Article 35. These are those justiciable rights that are guaranteed to all the citizens of India by the Constitution and cannot be violated.

It is well known that these rights are guaranteed to all the citizens without any kind of discrimination but not all the fundamental rights are connected with the labor legislations, their implementation, execution, formulation and thus I will deal with fundamental rights that are in some way or the other connected with the labor legislations. The articles which author will discuss are- Articles 14, 16, 19, 21, 23, 24 and 32.

Right to Equality and Labour Legislations

Article 14

Article 14 deals with the concept of equity, i.e., right to equality must be practiced against the equals and not un-equals. The acts which are undertaken outside the preview of equity can be considered arbitrary. Arbitrariness can be found out with the help of tests of reasonable classification. There are some exceptions to it in connection with labor laws such as physical ability, unskilled and skilled laborers shall receive remuneration according to their merit.

Article 16

As per article 16 It is against the law for the government to treat people differently because of their religion, caste, race, sex, descent, country of origin, state of domicile, or any combination of these criteria. It ensures that women and men have the same access to government jobs. This article gives the state the authority to create preferential policies for disadvantaged groups.

Case Laws

Chiranjit Lal Chaudhari vs Union of India, 1950

In this case, the court had to decide if it was legal to discriminate against a manufacturer. First, the Supreme Court ruled that a single person or business might constitute a class, and second, that the burden of proof rests with the party challenging the Constitutionality of a statute by arguing that it is irrational.

Ganga Ram vs Union of India, 1970

In this case the court held that fair selection and promotion standards that apply to all members of a categorized group and do not contradict the principle of equality of opportunity in services can be established.

Since every classification generates inequality, the Constitutional restriction does not apply. The categorisation need not be logical or scientific. A reasonable, equality-preserving method is needed. However, the categorization must be founded on understandable differentia that distinguishes those included from those excluded and be equitable and reasonable in regard to the purpose.

Chandra Bhavan Boarding and Lodging vs State of Mysore, 1969

Two separate writ petitions were submitted in this case, but the Supreme Court issued a consolidated decision on both because the underlying legal questions were the same. The Supreme Court upheld the Act and its provisions, noting that the government's ability to set varying minimum wages based on factors like the state of the economy, the cost of living, the nature of the work, the category of employment, etc., is not in conflict with articles 14 and 19(1)(g) of the Constitution.

Bhartiya Dak Tar Mazdoor Munch vs Union of India, 1987

It was held in this case that it is not reasonable to divide workers who perform the same tasks into three separate categories (unskilled, semi-skilled, and skilled) and pay them at three different rates of remuneration. Employer exploitation, as represented by such arbitrary and discriminatory treatment, is prohibited by Articles 14 and 16 of the Constitution.

Fundamental Freedom and Labour Legislations

Article 19

Article 19(1)(a) protects the right to freedom of expression, subject to the limitations set forth in article 19(2); article 19(1)(c) protects the right to organize and bargain collectively through the formation of associations or unions (e.g., trade unions), subject to the limitations set forth in article 19(4); and article 19(1)(g) protects the right to engage in any lawful occupation, profession, trade, or business, subject to the limitations set forth in article 19(5).

Article 21

Every citizen of India is guaranteed the right to life and personal liberty under article 21 of the Constitution. This fundamental right encompasses the right to work with dignity and fair remuneration.

Case Laws

Bandhua Mukti Morcha vs Union of India, 1984

The Court's judgment required periodical registry updates on the judgment's execution. In 2006, the National Commission for the Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) rules were drafted as a supplement to this case and other relevant public interest litigation cases that addressed enforcement. This Commission assessed the country's compliance with the Convention on the Rights of the Child, which requires free basic education for all children and protection from economic exploitation.

Right against Exploitation and Labour Legislations

Article 23

This Article of the Constitution prohibits human trafficking and forced labor, it prohibits any employment below minimum wage level as it is illegal and amounts to slavery.

Article 24

Employing children under the age group of fourteen years in any plantation, mine or other hazardous occupation is prohibited under article 24 of the Constitution.

Case Laws

People’s Union of Domestic Rights vs Union of India, 1983

Some fundamental rights are also enforceable against private parties. Private persons are responsible for violating essential rights under India's Constitution. When it comes to preserving the rights of the poor in society, the courts are able to entirely accomplish justice, break the chains of rules and regulations, and use them for the public good.

In this instance, employees' rights were at jeopardy, thus justice had to respond. Even after 30 years, employers sometimes violated workers' rights.

The case emphasizes PIL (Public Interest Litigation), a new idea with the potential to benefit society, in light of their atrocities.

Neeraja Chaudhary vs State of Madhya Pradesh, 1984

The court in this case said that according to the criteria of Articles 21 and 23, the bonded employees need to be located, saved, and also given rehabilitation, the honorable court ruled. The court emphasized the significance of rehabilitation, noting that in the absence of any actions taken for the reintegration of laborers who had been rescued, they would be driven back into a position of destitution and poor living conditions, which would bring them back into the bonded labor system.

Constitutional Remedies and Labour Legislations

Article 32

The Constitution's recourse provisions are outlined in Article 32. It's the heart of Part III because it's where you go to get your rights back from the government if they've been violated. It ensures the protection of basic rights and facilitates prompt remedy.

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