The Delhi High Court has released guidelines for cases where inmates or convicts sustain work-related injuries in prison. The court observed that there is no monitoring or remedial mechanism available to address such cases. Justice Swarana Kanta Sharma noted that when there is no employee or employer relationship between prisoners and jail authorities, such inmates must be provided protection and remedies for work-related injuries.
The court stated that inmates who suffer work-related injuries have a fundamental right to justice and compensation as per the law, even as prisoners.
The court directed that when a convict suffers a work-related amputation or life-threatening injury, the Superintendent of Jail must immediately inform the concerned Jail Inspecting Judge within 24 hours of the incident. The court also directed the constitution of a Three-Member Committee consisting of the Director General (Prisons), Medical Superintendent of a government hospital, and Secretary of DSLSA of the concerned district.
The committee will assess and quantify compensation to be paid to the inmate after perusing the opinion of a board of doctors constituted by the treating hospital. The court clarified that the arrangement in terms of the guidelines will remain in place until necessary guidelines or rules are made or amended in the Prison Act, 1894, or in Delhi Prisons Act, 2000.
The court observed that a convict does not voluntarily enter into an agreement or contract to work, and thus, there is no employer-employee relationship between the inmate and prison authorities. It further stated that the living and working conditions of prisoners have to be hassle-free and healthful, and liability has to be established in case of an inmate suffering from injury while working in prison.
The court opined that the authorities of prisons, which are correctional homes, should act as guardians of the prisoners for their health and safety and not merely consider themselves as guards of the inmates.
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