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Supreme Court today sought response from the Centre on a plea seeking direction to fix wages paid to skilled, semi-skilled and unskilled prisoners on par with the minimum wages. A bench headed by Chief Justice H L Dattu and Justice A K Sikri issued notices to the Union Home Ministry and several states and union territories on a PIL filed by NGO 'Bandi Adhikar Andolan'. The NGO, in its plea, said that prisoners are provided with food, clothing, basic facilities and maintenance in jails by the states and this cost is recovered from the prisoner's wages that he earns by working in the jail. "Deduction from the wages should be reasonable such that the prisoner can support his family and children.
But the deductions made in the wages do not find any certainty and prescription from the State," it said. The plea, filed through advocate Satya Mitra, also seeks an order to provide eight hours of work to all such convict prisoners and undertrials who volunteer to work and receive their earned wages on a fixed day of each month. Contending that appropriate wages created motivation to work, the plea alleged that in spite of the directions of apex court, the prisoners' wages continue to be much below the average which violated constitutional rights of a prisoner. "Fix the prison wages for skilled, semi-skilled and unskilled workers on par with the minimum wages and thereafter make such deductions for food, clothing and victims' compensation in accordance with the decision of the Supreme Court," the PIL said.