Compulsory labors by a person undergoing lawful punishment for a criminal offence-illustrate and explain.


Generally a Constitution of a country is the supreme law of that country, and any law that is inconsistent with the provisions of the Constitution is, to the extent of the inconsistency, of no force or effect. So the constitution is a set of essential principles or established precedents according to which a state or other organization is governed[1]. When these types of doctrines are written down into a single or set of legal documents, then we call this a written constitution. One of the major statements that are announced in constitution is that freedom of occupation and prohibition against forced labor. Basically it means guarantees freedom of occupation subject to any restriction imposed by law and provides that all forms of forced labor are prohibited and any contravention of this provision shall be an offence punishable in accordance with law[2]. It is beyond the dignity of a person to be compelled to labor when he would not do so voluntarily.

Basically it includes every form of labor which is supplied under compulsion and not willingly and it is immaterial whether remuneration is paid or not[3] . It is said that subject to any restriction imposed by law, every citizen possessing such qualification, if any, as may be prescribed by law in relation to his profession, occupation shall have the right to enter upon any lawful profession or occupation. The acceptance of socialism as one of the fundamental principals of state policy under the constitution of Bangladesh has justifiably led to the omission of the qualifying phrase ‘reasonable’ before the term ‘restriction’[4]. We have to follow the rules and regulations which are incorporated in constitution as citizens.

Reason and Importance of fundamental rights for Forced labor:

In the World War I, both sides’ trade union organizations, in addition to those of unbiased countries, insisted that their voice be heard at the moment of the resolution of peace, and that the peace treaties hold clauses for improving the situation of workers. That peace convention entrusted the assessment of this question to a special commission known as the Commission on International Labor Legislation. This effort of the Commission led to the insertion in the Treaty of Versailles and the other peace treaties of Part XIII, which dealt with labor matters. And that part of the treaties provided for the establishment of an International Labor Organization, which might accept conventions and recommendations in this field. And the most important thing is that the Conventions would be binding only on those states which ratified them[5]. In the last part of the World War I I, the International Labor Conference adopted in May 1944, in Philadelphia, a Declaration, which defined once more the aims and purposes of the Organization[6]. The majority proposals for a public clause are based upon the seven ILO core Conventions. In this situation of international trade, a public clause essentially refers to a legal provision in a trade agreement aimed at removing the most tremendous forms of labor misuse in exporting countries by allowing importing countries to take trade measures against exporting countries which fail to monitor a set of internationally agreed minimum labor standards[7]. Some of the center Conventions were recognized and given prominence in the Conclusion of the World Summit for Social Development in 1995[8]. And then the second group is technical standards, which establish norms to improve working conditions.

At first the establishment of the right of all workers and employers to form and join organizations of their own choosing without former authorization, and lays down a series of guarantees for the free functioning of organizations without interference by the public authorities. After that at December 1997, 121 countries had ratified this convention[9]. After that it becomes necessary to provide for protection against anti-union discrimination, for protection of workers’ and employers’ organizations against acts of interference by each other, and for measures to promote collective bargaining. And this also granted in December 1997, 137 countries had ratified this convention[10]. Now it is required that the suppression of forced or compulsory labor in all its forms. Then assured the exceptions are allowed, such as military service, criminal labor properly supervised, emergencies such as wars, fires, earthquakes, etc. In December 1997, 145 countries had ratified this convention[11]. Then it is prohibited the use of any form of forced or enforced labor as a means of political oppression or education, punishment for the expression of political or ideological views, workforce mobilization, labor discipline, punishment for participation in strikes, or discrimination. For this at December 1997, 130 countries had been ratified this conference[12]. This is called for a national policy to eradicate discrimination in access to employment, training and working situation, on grounds of race, color, sex, religion, political opinion, national extraction or social origin and to promote equality of opportunity and treatment. So during the month of December 1997, 129 countries had ratified this convention[13].

Labor may be forced not only owing to physical force, but also on account of a legal provision such as imprisonment or fine in case an employee fails to provide service, and also owing to hunger and poverty which compels a person to accept employment for a remuneration which is less than the statutory minimum wages[14].

Prohibition against forced labor in the context of Constitution of Bangladesh:

Art. 34(1) provides that all forms of forced labor are prohibited and any contravention of this provision shall be an offence punishable in accordance with law. The corresponding provision of the Indian constitution is which stipulates that traffic in human beings and beggar and other similar forms of forced labor are prohibited[15]. It is beyond the dignity of a person to be compelled to labor he would not do so voluntarily. Where a contract for personal service is enforceable under a penal law, the prohibition is attracted. Art 34 will be attracted where the penalty for default in rendering service is founded on custom or administrative fiat or in repayment of an alleged debt[16]. But compulsion to do overtime is not forced labor because when the rules make liability to work overtime a term of employment no question of forced labor is involved as the worker entered into the employment contract voluntarily[17].

Art. 34(2) provide the exception to art. 34 (1). Compulsory labor by a person undergoing lawful punishment for a criminal offence or compulsory labor required by any law for a public purpose shall not attract the prohibition of art. 34 (1). However, if the exaction of hard labor is without payment of wages or even with payment of nominal wages this will be a case of forced labor violating art. 34(1)[18]. The expression ‘public purpose’ is wide enough to include military police service[19] as also social service[20]. Forced labor is involved when a men is obliged to work at wages below the minimum wages[21]. Traffic in women and children also involve forced labor[22].

Art. 40 guarantees freedom of occupation subject to any restriction imposed by law. By this article, there is no requirement of reasonable restriction or reasonable law and the restriction by law need not be on specific grounds. On the face of it Parliament may pass any law restricting, curtailing and even prohibiting exercise of this rights; the prohibition is on the executive which cannot invade these rights without the backing of law. It may, however, be kept in view that this article has been included in part III as entrenched provisions limiting the plenary legislative power of parliament and these provisions are to be constructed accordingly. Occupation is important segment of ‘liberty’ sought to be protected by art. 31 and, of course, ‘property’ comes within the ambit of that article. Hence, any law dealing with occupation must be must be reasonable so as not to fall afoul of art. 31. Art. 31 ingrain and grafts reasonableness which operates like a free flowing stream running through the entire body of the Constitution and there is no place for unreasonableness or arbitrariness under our constitutional dispensation. Whatever law may be passed and whatever restriction may be imposed touching the guarantees of Art. 40 must be reasonable to stand constitutional security. However, the inquiry as to the reasonableness of the restriction imposed by law will be a relaxed one; the test will be the one which is applied for ascertaining reasonableness[23]. We shall deal with this right separately with the assumption that any law touching on this right must be reasonable and must not be arbitrary.

Dr. Munim observed, “The use of word ‘lawful’ before ‘profession’ etc. and of the word ‘any’ before ‘restrictions’ in this Article may arguably be viewed as indicating that this right is not actually intended to be a fundamental right.”[24] It is submitted that Dr. Munim has taken a very rigid literal view and in doing that he neither considered part III in its proper perspective, nor considered the real effect of arts. 26 and 31 on the over-all enumeration of the rights in part III. Munir CJ simply brushed aside such a contention in Jibendra Kishore[25] as did Kaikaus J in Pakistan v. Syed Akhlaque Hussain[26]. Under art. 40 in order to claim a fundamental right to carry on an occupation, it must be a lawful occupation[27]. It does not mean that Parliament can without any limitation make any occupation unlawful.


Generally the idea of constitution is worried with the role and powers of the institutions within the state and the connection between the citizen and the state. So the legislature holds the authority to put into effect the laws of constitution. All forms of forced labor are prohibited and any contravention of this provision shall be an offence punishable in accordance with law. Actually freedom of occupation guarantees that every citizen, subject to the restriction that may be put by law and acquiring the requisite qualification prescribed, can choose and carry on any profession, occupation which is not unlawful.

It is known that Constitution is the written articles which contain the will of the citizens. No matter what is essential for the betterment of the citizen is present in constitution. So we can say that Constitution is the voice of citizens in which regulations and responsibilities of both the government and the citizens are shown. And it is true that Constitution empowers the people but all the people of a country have to go after the rules and regulations of constitution and receive the responsibility to create the world a better place.

[1] See The New Oxford American Dictionary, Second ed., Erin McKean (editor), 2051 pages, May 2005, Oxford University Press, and ISBN 0-19-517077-6.

[2] See Constitution of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh, Article 34(1) & 40.

[3] People’s union v. India, AIR 1982 SC 1473; Sanjit v. Rajasthan, AIR 1983 SC 328

[4] The Rights of the Citizen under the Constitution and Law, p. 287

[5] See Constitution of the International Labor Organization, adopted by the Peace Conference in April of 1919

[6] Philadelphia Declaration

[7] See Hoe Lim, The Social Clause: Issues and Challenges

[8] See Copenhagen Declaration on Social Development

[9] Freedom of Association and Protection of the Right to Organize Convention, 1948 (No. 87)

[10] Right to Organize and Collective Bargaining Convention, 1949 (No. 98)

[11] Forced Labor Convention, 1930 (No. 29)

[12] Abolition of Forced Labor Convention, 1957 (No. 105)

[13] Discrimination (Employment and Occupation) Convention, 1958 (No. 111)

[14] People’s Union v. India, AIR 1982 SC 1473

[15] Constitution of Republic of India, Art. 23

[16] Ibid; Bandhua Mukti Morcha v. India, AIR 1984 SC 804; Kahaoson v. Simirei, AIR 1961 Manipur1

[17] Dalmia cement ltd. V. Dalmia cement worker’s Union, PLD 1958 SC 158

[18] Gujrat v. Hon’ble High Court of Gujrat, (1998) 7 SCC 392

[19] Dulalal v. District Magistrate, AIR 1958 Cal 365

[20] Acharaj v. Bihar, AIR 1967 Pat 114 (cultivator compelled to carry food grains without remuneration to government godown in a scheme of procurement of food grains as an essential commodity)

[21] BIWTA v. BIWTA Ghat sramik Union, 1982 BLD (AD) 83 (appointment of stevedores and handling contractors by BIWTA for loading and unloading of goods in inland ports through coolies does not result in forced labor)

[22] Raj Bahadur v. Legal Remembrancer, AIR 1953 Cal 522; Nihal v. Rambai, AIR 1987 MP 126

[23] S.A. Coconut oil Mills v. Bangladesh, 54 DLR

[24] The rights of Citizen under the Constitution and Law, p.288

[25] 9 DLR (SC) 21, Para 38

[26] PLD 1965 SC 527 ,580-581

[27] Sultana Nahar v. Bangladesh, 1998 BLD 363 (Since the professions of sex workers has not been declared unlawful by the Constitution or any law, the sex workers are entitled to claim protection under art. 40)