Delhi HC stays deduction of prisoners’ wages towards victim welfare fund
The Delhi high court on Monday stayed till further orders the deduction of wages of prisoners lodged in various jails of the city. The deductions are made under the victim’s welfare fund.This came on a plea challenging the deduction on the salaries of prisoners, to be paid to their victims or their legal heirs.
A bench of chief justice Rajendra Menon and justice V Kameswar said wages of convicts and prisoners shall not be deducted till the next date of hearing, on February 8, 2019.
According to prison rules, 25% of daily wages of prisoners are deducted and given to victims or their heirs. On March 18, Hindustan Times had reported that about Rs 15 crore in the victim’s welfare fund was lying unused — only 5% of the fund was disbursed.
The court’s order comes while hearing a plea filed by a woman, Katyayini, through advocate Ajay Verma, who had sought the quashing of the August 2006 notification and the Delhi Prison Rules of 1988 that mandate deduction of wages of prisoners.
The bench had earlier sought the response of the Delhi government and the Delhi State Legal Services Authority (DSLSA) on the plea which had contended that prisoners are not being able to meet their basic necessities and the needs of their families.
On Monday, the DSLSA batted for non-deduction of salaries of prisoners and stated that it was “not reasonable or justified” as the Delhi government has now created a scheme for victims.
“…no purpose would be served by maintaining a separate victim welfare fund with the jails as the latter is only for the purpose of compensating the victims or their dependants which is already provided under CrPC,” it said.
“…the Delhi Victims Compensation Scheme and Fund, the significance of deduction of wages of prisoners is lost. Moreover, the rates of wages of prisoners are already on the lower side, compared to the minimum wages that are payable in Delhi. A further deduction from the same may not be justified or proper. The deduction from the wages of prisoners for contribution to the victim welfare fund does not appear reasonable or justified,” it added.
Earlier, the court had questioned the deduction from prisoners’ wages towards the victim welfare fund, saying it was the government’s obligation to set up such a corpus.