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Rights of Domestic Workers in India: A Critical Analysis of Efforts of the National Human Rights Commission of India

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Recognition of the Rights of Domestic Workers in India
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Abstract

The National Human Rights Commission of India (NHRC) has been entrusted with a wide mandate in relation to safeguarding the basic human rights of people in India under the Protection of Human Rights Act, 1993. The Commission’s mandate covers, among other groups, the rights of domestic workers. Its strategy, over the last two decades, has primarily focused on addressing bonded labour, child labour, exploitation of migrant domestic workers, etc. Rights of domestic workers in India bring into sharp focus India’s obligations under the Indian Constitution and international conventions and other commitments. This chapter seeks to outline some of the challenges with regard to the protection of the rights of domestic workers and also undertake a critical appraisal of how the NHRC acquitted itself in protecting their rights in the last 23 years or so.

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Notes

  1. 1.

    See Section 2(f), Domestic Workers Act, 2010 and see Public Notice issued by the Ministry of Labour and Employment seeking comments and suggestions regarding formulation of National Policy for Domestic Workers and in particular IV. ‘Facilitate recognition of Domestic worker as “Workers”, with the right to register themselves as workers with the state labour department or any other suitable mechanism’, https://labour.gov.in/sites/default/files/MX-M362N_20171013_135443.pdf.

  2. 2.

    Report IV (1) (2010).

  3. 3.

    Decent Work for Domestic Workers. http://in.one.un.org/page/rights-for-domestic-workers/. Accessed 30 June 2018.

  4. 4.

    Indian Express (2016).

  5. 5.

    See press release of the Ministry of Women and Child Development (2014).

  6. 6.

    Kaga (2012).

  7. 7.

    Ibid.

  8. 8.

    Times of India (2013).

  9. 9.

    Domestic workers Welfare and Social Security Act 2010, https://in.one.un.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/domestic_worker_welfare_and_social_security_act_2010.pdf. Accessed 14 April 2018.

  10. 10.

    Ibid.

  11. 11.

    See International Labour Organization (2007, p. v).

  12. 12.

    Convention No. 189 Decent work for domestic workers http://www.ilo.org/wcmsp5/groups/public/@asia/@ro-bangkok/documents/genericdocument/wcms_208561.pdf. Accessed 30 June 2018.

  13. 13.

    Art 11, R201—Domestic Workers Recommendation, 2011 (No. 201) (non-binding guidelines).

  14. 14.

    Article 39(e) of the Constitution of India.

  15. 15.

    Article 39(f) of the Constitution of India.

  16. 16.

    Draft National Policy for Domestic Workers Under Consideration http://www.business-standard.com/article/news-cm/draft-national-policy-for-domestic-workers-under-consideration-117032700935_1.html. Accessed 10 September 2018.

  17. 17.

    Ibid.

    i. Indira Gandhi National Old Age Pension Scheme (Ministry of Rural Development)

    ii. National Family Benefit Scheme (Ministry of Rural Development)

    iii. Janani Suraksha Yojana (Ministry of Health and Family Welfare)

    iv. Handloom Weavers’ Comprehensive Welfare Scheme (Ministry of Textiles)

    v. Handicraft Artisans’ Comprehensive Welfare Scheme (Ministry of Textiles)

    vi. Pension to Master Craft Persons (Ministry of Textiles)

    vii. National Scheme for Welfare of Fishermen and Training and Extension (Department of Animal Husbandry, Dairying & Fisheries)

    viii. Aam Admi Bima Yojana (Department of Financial Services)

    ix. Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojana (Ministry of Health and Family Welfare).

  18. 18.

    Ibid.

  19. 19.

    The ten states are Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Karnataka, Kerala, Maharashtra, Odisha, Rajasthan and Tamil Nadu.

  20. 20.

    Seven states are Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand, Karnataka, Kerala, Odisha and Rajasthan.

  21. 21.

    Rights for Domestic Workers, United Nations in India, see http://in.one.un.org/page/rights-for-domestic-workers/. Accessed 13 September 2018.

  22. 22.

    Ibid.

  23. 23.

    Ibid.

  24. 24.

    People’s Union for Democratic Rights v. Union of India [Asiad Workers case], Writ petition 8143 of 1981.

  25. 25.

    Ibid. The Supreme Court also noted, “Where a person is suffering from hunger or starvation, when he has no resources at all to fight disease or feed his wife and children or even to hide their nakedness, where utter grinding poverty has broken his back and reduced him to a state of helplessness and despair and where no other employment is available to alleviate the rigour of his poverty, he would have no choice but to accept any work that comes his way, even if the remuneration offered to him is less than the minimum wage”.

  26. 26.

    Ibid.

  27. 27.

    du Toit (2011).

  28. 28.

    See Preamble to the Protection of Human Rights Act, 1993.

  29. 29.

    See NHRC 1993–94.

  30. 30.

    See NHRC 1995–96.

  31. 31.

    See National Human Rights Commission.

  32. 32.

    See NHRC (2015).

  33. 33.

    Case No. 1005/30/0/2015-WC, NHRC asks Delhi Police Commissioner to submit report on placement agencies on allegations of their involvement in human trafficking, NHRC Press release dated 26.2.2015, see http://nhrc.nic.in/disparchive.asp?fno=13519. Accessed 6 June 2017.

  34. 34.

    The amendment suggested to Government of India was as follows:

    Central Civil Services (Conduct) Rules, 1964 shall be amended by adding the following as Rule 22-A: ‘22-A: (i) No Government Servant shall employ to work any child below the age of 14 years; (ii) breach of sub-rule (i) shall be misconduct attracting a major penalty’.

  35. 35.

    Finn.

  36. 36.

    The Commission has organized more than 34 workshops so far on elimination of bonded labour. See NHRC Press Release, dated 27 January 2016, http://nhrc.nic.in/press-release/nhrcs-day-long-workshop-elimination-bonded-labour-begins-jaipur-2712016. Accessed 28 February 2016.

  37. 37.

    Y.S.R. Murthy’s contribution to EU Project on International Human Rights Protection: National Human Rights Institutions—A case study. (NHRC 1999: 9.3–9.6).

  38. 38.

    Rao.

  39. 39.

    Ibid.

  40. 40.

    NHRC (20102011).

  41. 41.

    Read the report at http://nhrc.nic.in/sites/default/files/ReportonTrafficking.pdf. Accessed 30 June 2017.

  42. 42.

    See page 163 of Annual Report 2015–2016, NHRC http://nhrc.nic.in/sites/default/files/NHRC_AR_EN_2015-2016_0.pdf. Accessed 30 June 2017.

  43. 43.

    Domestic Workers Welfare and Social Security Act 2010. https://in.one.un.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/domestic_worker_welfare_and_social_security_act_2010.pdf. Accessed 14 May 2017.

  44. 44.

    Ibid.

  45. 45.

    Rights For Domestic Workers. http://in.one.un.org/page/rights-for-domestic-workers/. Accessed 10 June 2017.

  46. 46.

    See Indian Express (2016).

  47. 47.

    Sampath (2017).

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Murthy, Y.S.R. (2019). Rights of Domestic Workers in India: A Critical Analysis of Efforts of the National Human Rights Commission of India. In: Mahanta, U., Gupta, I. (eds) Recognition of the Rights of Domestic Workers in India. Springer, Singapore. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-981-13-5764-0_10

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