Deduction Of 50% Of The Wages From The Prisoners Unconstitutional: Madras HC [Read Judgment]

Deduction Of 50% Of The Wages From The Prisoners Unconstitutional: Madras HC [Read Judgment]

“It is open to the Government to provide for a lesser and reasonable percentage of deduction which would be in accord with the law laid down by the Hon'ble Supreme Court in the aforesaid decision.”

The Madras High Court has held that Rule 481 of Tamil Nadu Prison Rules, 1983 is unconstitutional to the extent it provides for deduction of 50% of the wages from the prisoners.

KR Raja had approached the Madurai Bench contending that deduction of 50% of the wages earned by the prisoners for up keeping of the prisoners and crediting 20% of the wages to prison fund to be paid to the victims, is illegal.

The bench comprising Justice KK Sasidharan and Justice GR Swaminathan agreed with the Government that apportioning 1/5th of the prisoners' wages for crediting to the victims compensation fund cannot be said to be unreasonable.

However, the bench observed that the Government cannot deduct any substantial portion from the wages of the prisoners, but can make only a reasonable deduction. The court also opined that deducting 50% of the wages would certainly qualify as substantial deduction.

The bench added that such substantial deduction from wages without any justifiable reason would also constitute 'begar' and a violation of Article 23 of the Constitution of India. The bench observed:

"Admittedly, the prisoners in Tamil Nadu are not paid the wages as prescribed in the Minimum Wages Act. Therefore, making a substantial deduction from the wages prescribed under the Prison Rules runs counter to the directions laid down by the Hon'ble Supreme Court in the decision reported in (1998) 7 SCC 392 (State of Gujarat and another vs. Hon'ble High Court of Gujarat)."

Partly allowing the writ petition, the bench said:

"We therefore hold that Rule 481 of Tamil Nadu Prison Rules, 1983 is unconstitutional to the extent it provides for deduction of 50% of the wages from the prisoners. It is open to the Government to provide for a lesser and reasonable percentage of deduction which would be in accord with the law laid down by the Hon'ble Supreme Court in the aforesaid decision."

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