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The service of prisoners have a clear deterrence from the service of employees. The Calcutta High Court gave a verdict explaining the status of the prisoners and their employment. It said that there are distinct features that separates the nature of employment of prisoners to that of general employment. The prisoners undergoing rigorous imprisonment are mandated compulsorily to do work in the prison. The prison authorities also are under statutory compulsion to mandate employment for prisoners serving rigorous imprisonment.

The court observed that, prison service employment is compulsory mandate for the prisoners it is not under the option of the employer or the employee to opt out or in for work. In addition, there exists an element of compulsion and the workers here are forced to do the work. Equally are the employers under a compulsory mandate to allocate work for the prisoners. Jail authorities are statutorily bound to provide work for the prisoners and they lack all sort of bargaining power so they are diluted from any obligation to pay Minimum Wages.

The court further added that the prisoners are provided with facilities like food, clothing, shelter etc. So a reasonable wages in accordance can be provided. The court added further that prison authorities are bound to classify the prisoners on competence of their skills and proportionately allocate work and pay reasonable wages accordingly. The court finally concluded that the prisoners are not governed under Minimum Wages Act, 1948 and it is the duty of the statutory authorities to determine a reasonable wage for the prisoners.

By: S Indhu

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