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Allahabad High Court rules that working for a monthly wage of Rs 150 constitutes forced labour.

Allahabad High Court rules that working for a monthly wage of Rs 150 constitutes forced labour.

Amar Singh (the petitioner) filed a petition in 2004 after beginning work as a school watchman in the state in December 1992. The petitioner was initially employed for Rs 30 per month. In the following year, he was officially appointed as a watchman (choukidar), and his salary was increased from Rs 30 to Rs 150 in 1998.

However, the petitioner has received this sum (Rs 150) ever since. According to the petitioner’s plea, he stated that he had provided continuous service for a decade beginning in 1992, working daily from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., just like other employees. As a result, he should be eligible for the minimum pay scale for a Class IV employee.

Respondents argued in response to this petition that the petitioner was appointed on the basis of a monthly allowance rather than as a Class IV employee. Furthermore, they claimed that because he was a part-time watchman (choukidar), he could not receive compensation equivalent to the regular pay scale.

Following the presentations made in court, the Allahabad High Court ruled that employment by the State Government for a mere Rs 150 per month constitutes forced labour, which is legally prohibited. The court also ordered the State to immediately pay the petitioner at the rate of the minimum pay scale designated for Class IV employees. Furthermore, the payment must be made within six weeks.

Justice Irshad Ali clarified that when the State government employs someone at an unreasonably low wage that is insufficient for basic human sustenance, such work can only be viewed as human labour exploitation. He also stated that it violates fundamental human rights, such as the right to work with dignity guaranteed by Article 21 of the Indian Constitution.

Furthermore, the order stated that the respondents should assess the petitioner’s eligibility for regularisation during the time frame specified.

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