GURDEV SINGH Vs. STATE OF HIMACHAL PRADESH
HIGH COURT OF HIMACHAL PRADESH
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BHAWANI SINGH, J. -
(1.) ese criminal writ petitions, being common in nature, scope and effect are being decided by a common judgment and the learned counsel for the parties also agree that they should be so decided.
(2.) The petitioners, in both these petitions, are undergoing imprisonment in the jails of the State. They submitted the petitions to this Court which were placed on Judicial side for examination and decision by Chief Justice P. D. Desai, as he then was. In Criminal writ Petition 6 of 1985 (Gurdev Singh and 6 others v. State of H.P. and 2 others) the petitioners complain that they are employed for work but are being paid Rs. 1.50 perday for the labour. They also say that no wages are paid for the first three months of labour. In Criminal Writ Petition No. 49 of 1985 (Bhag Singh Chauhan v. State of H. P.), in addition to the allegation of the improper management of wage amounts by the Superintendent of Jail and the Store Keeper, they also say that they are forced to work with contractors either at less wages or no wages at all. The allegation as to mis-utilization of wage amounts were inquired into by the District and Sessions Judge, Shimla on the directions by this Court. However, the report discloses that the allegation of Bhag Singh, convict regarding the mis-utilization of the wage amounts against the jail officials has no substance. We have, therefore, no material before us to arrive at a conclusion favourable to the petitioner and against the jail officials. However, there is something to be said on the engagement, rate of wages, their receipt and management by the jail authorities, which aspect, we will turn to, at an appropriate place in the succeeding part of this judgment.
(3.) In his reply, the Inspector General of Prisons stated that the payment of wages to prisoners for rendering services in the jail factory/garden/kitchen etc. is regulated by the provisions of the Wage Earning Scheme applicable in respect of Model Central Jail, Nahan and District Jail, Dharamshala. Prisoners are paid wages @ Rs. 3.00 (skilled), Rs. 2.25 (semi-skilled) and Rs. 1.50 (un-skilled) for full task. The wages are paid to the workers of various categories in the following manner:-
"(a) A worker who performs the prescribed task of standard quality is entitled to the payment of wages prescribed for the trade or work in which he is employed. (b) A worker who performs as of standard quality in excess of the prescribed task is entitled to payment of additional wages in proportion to the additional work at the rate prescribed i.e. Rs. 3.00 Rs. 2/25 and Rs. l/50 respectively for skilled, semi-skilled and unskilled labour. (c) No prisoner who does not accomplish the prescribed task of the standard quality is entitled to any payment of wages provided that 50 percent of the wages prescribed in Rs. 3.00, Rs.2/25 and Rs.l/50 respectively for skilled semi-skilled and unskilled work, are payable in the following cases:- (1) to convicted criminal prisoners in skilled trades for duration of the period of training in excess of three months provided the prisoners accomplished a task of the standard quality exceeding 50 percent. (2) Undertrials and simple imprisonment prisoners after three months of admission to the wage earning scheme/system provided they accomplish the task of the standard quality exceeding 50 percent. (3) The unskilled workers recommended hard, medium and light work by the Medical Officer concerned get wages @ Rs.l/50, Rs. l/25 and Rs. l.00 respectively per day. For the purpose of payment of wages prison labour is classified into three categories as defined below :-
(1)"Skilled workers those employed on work which involve either physical or mental or both kinds of skill in its execution and which cannot be accomplished by ordinary labour with proficiency without sufficient skill". (II) "Semi-skilled Worker" means worker engaged on a task which cannot be performed by untrained hands but which can he executed with some training and practice but does not require any strict standard of precision. (III) "Unskilled worker" means worker engaged on a task which does not require any skill or training. Classification of each prisoner eligible for employment on various industries and trades allocated to each jail are made in accordance with the above categories by the Superintendent Jail concerned for the purpose of payment of wages in accordance with the nature of work on which the prisoner is employed with the approval of the Inspector General of Prisons. Out of the wages earned by the prisoners they are allowed to spend Rs. 25/ - per month to purchase items such as Ghee, bidies, cigrettes etc. The balance is deposited in their personal account. If they so desire amount is also remitted to their families. But no such payment is made to the prisoners. The following categories of prisoners are eligible for employment under the Scheme :- (i) All prisoners sentenced to rigorous imprisonment. (ii) Criminal prisoners sentenced to simple imprisonment as long as they so desire provided that no prisoner not sentenced to rigorous imprisonment shall be punished for neglect of work. (iii) All convicted criminal prisoners with their consent. (iv) Civil prisoners subject to provisions of Paras 797 and 798 of Punjab Jail Manual. Provided that women prisoners during prenatal and postnatal period and convalescent prisoners shall be exempted from work on the recommendations of the Medical Officer. While allotting work to the prisoners the following factors are taken into consideration:-
i) Physical and mental health; ii) Age; iii) Length of sentence; iv) Requirements of security and discipline; v) Previous occupation, training and experience; vi) Result of vocational aptitude tests, where given; vii) Area (Urban and rural) where the inmate is likely to resettle after released and possibilities of employment; viii) Level of work-skills and abilities; ix) Rehabilitation needs; x) Possibilities of imparting multiple skills; xi) Vocational training needs; xii) Inmate's occupational performance so far as they are compatible with institutional conditions and available facilities for work and training. Note :- Prisoners are assigned work carefully on the basis of their interests, abilities, training needs and trust-worthiness. But questionable and superficial interests are not considered. The allotment of work in the above manner is subject to the following conditions:-
i) Requirements of the institution for essential services and maintenance jobs are considered on priority basis; ii) Only volunteers are employed in conservancy work. Under the Scheme there is no provision for payment of compensation to prisoner who may sustain injury while on work.";
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