Case Title: Ved Yadav v State of NCT of Delhi
A Single Bench Judge Swarana Kanta Sharma held that when there is no employee or employer relationship between prisoners and jail authorities, such inmates have fundamental right to get compensation for the suffered disabilities with injuries that are caused while working in the prisons.
The court was hearing the case of Tihar inmate Ved Yadav, imprisoned to life for murder, who sought compensation for amputation of three fingers while working in the paper factory at the jail in 2021. He sought a direction to the state to “provide functional prosthesis for regular working of the amputated fingers of right hand at state’s expense” in a private hospital and to grant compensation for the loss suffered by him. Thereafter, Yadav was awarded Rs. 50,000/- as compensation by the director-general (prisons). The Yadav, then approached the court for the enhancement of the said compensation being unjustifiable for the loss he suffered.
While dealing with the case, the court observed that neither the Delhi Prisons Act of 2000 nor the Delhi Prison Rules of 2018 say anything about what happens to the lost time and wages of the convict rendered incapable of working after his accident or after having had an amputation.
Therefore, the court issued guidelines to quantify and award compensation to prisoners who suffer amputation or other life-threatening injuries while working in prisons. According to these guidelines, if a convict suffers amputation or life-threatening injury while working, the jail superintendent will be duty-bound to inform the same to the jail inspecting judge concerned within 24 hours.
A three-member committee consisting of the director-general (prisons), medical superintendent of a government hospital and the Delhi State Legal Services Authority (DSLSA) secretary of the district from where the convict has been sentenced will be constituted. The committee will assess and quantify the compensation to be paid after examining the opinion of a board of doctors to be constituted at their request by the treating hospital.
An interim compensation will be provided to such victims in case of amputation or life-threatening injury. However, the Court observed that:
“This arrangement will remain in place until necessary guidelines in this regard are formulated, or rules are made or amended in this regard or any amendment is brought in the Prison Act, 1894 by the wisdom of the Parliament of India, or in Delhi Prisons Act, 2000 to deal with such a situation.”
Since, the petitioner has already been provided an interim compensation of ₹50,000, his case for enhanced compensation will be decided in light of the above guidelines.
Further the court, while issuing the guidelines also observed that there exist no employee or employer relationship between prisoners and jail authorities.
“In such circumstances, when there exists no employee or employer relationship between prisoners and the jail authorities; for work related injuries they should be provided protection and remedies as the Constitution vision does not permit that any citizen should be rendered remediless in case of commission of an offence or infringement of a fundamental right or availing compensation for injuries even as a prisoner,” the Court said.
The court, after making the above observations, directed that the copy of the judgement be forwarded to the DG Prisons, Secretary of DSLSA, Secretary of Ministry of Health and Family Welfare as well as Department of Health, Delhi for taking note of its content and ensuring compliance.
“It is time that the authorities of the prisons which are correctional homes act as guardians of the prisoners for their health and safety and not merely consider themselves as guards of the inmates.”, said the court.
Story Update By: Ms. Sai Sushmitha, Correspondent at Lawgic.
Edited By: Ms. Nandini Nair, Content-Head at Lawgic.