New Delhi: The Delhi high court on Wednesday questioned the Tihar Jail authorities’ decision to deduct 25 per cent of the prisoners’ salary for a victim compensation fund, saying that it was the government’s obligation to set up such a corpus.
A two-judge bench of Chief Justice Rajendra Menon and Justice V.K. Rao said the Director General of Prisons of the Delhi government “cannot do something which was not permissible under the law”.
The court asked the government to file an affidavit on the powers available to it for taking such a decision and listed the matter for further hearing on December 3.
The bench observed that the prison authority was assuming the power of a convicting court, which imposes the costs or fines on a convict.
“You (prison authority) are also imposing a fine by deducting 25 per cent of their salary. You are assuming the powers of a convicting court. How can you do that? Your decision is in conflict with the Criminal Procedure Code.”
The bench was hearing a PIL challenging the practice of deducting 25 per cent of the convicts’ wages towards the victim welfare fund.
The court was earlier told that over `15 crore was collected since 2006 from wages of convicts lodged in Tihar Jail for the welfare of their victims has been lying unutilised.
The prison, in a report, has said that till date it has held 12 meetings and approximately `80.73 lakh has been disbursed to 194 eligible victims.
It has opposed the public interest litigation, which has sought quashing of an August 2006 notification and the Delhi Prison Rules of 1988, which mandate deduction of wages of prisoners.
The prison, which is run by the department of Delhi prisons, Government of Delhi, contains nine central prisons, and is one of the two prison complexes in Delhi, along with a district prison at the Rohini Prison Complex.