31 May 2019 11:11 AM GMT
The Delhi High Court on Friday issued notice to the Delhi government and the Director General (Prisons) on a PIL demanding that inmates in Delhi prisons be allowed conjugal visits, which is their fundamental as well as human right. A bench of Chief Justice Rajendra Menon and Justice Brijesh Sethi issued notice on the PIL moved by advocate and activist Amit Sahni who rued that inmates...
The Delhi High Court on Friday issued notice to the Delhi government and the Director General (Prisons) on a PIL demanding that inmates in Delhi prisons be allowed conjugal visits, which is their fundamental as well as human right.
A bench of Chief Justice Rajendra Menon and Justice Brijesh Sethi issued notice on the PIL moved by advocate and activist Amit Sahni who rued that inmates in Delhi prisons suffer lack of private contact with family and sought setting aside of Rule 608 of Delhi Prison Rule, 2018 which provides for interview of a prisoner with her or his spouse and family but in the presence of a Prison Officer.
Appearing for Sahni, senior advocate Hariharan said the issue of allowing conjugal visits to prisoners have been considered by various high courts and required concrete measures to be taken.
Noting that the PIL raised a sensitive and interesting issue, the bench issued notices to the parties seeking their response within four weeks.
Conjugal visits in prison are private meetings between a male or a female inmate with their spouse or partner, during which the couple may share intimacy or engage in whatever legal activity they desire.
Psychologists and psychiatrists believe that the frustration, tension, the ill feelings, and the heart-burnings can be reduced and a human being can be better constructed if they are allowed conjugal relationship even rarely and it also cuts down criminal behaviour inside jails.
In 2015, the Punjab and Haryana High Court in 'Jasvir Singh & Anr Vs State of Punjab' had held that "the right to procreation survives incarceration. Such a right is traceable and squarely falls within the ambit of Article 21 of our Constitution read with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights"
It had directed the State to constitute the Jail Reforms Committee comprising a former Judge of the High Court, a Social Scientist, an Expert in Jail Reformation and Prison Management to formulate a scheme for creating an environment for conjugal and family visits for a certain categories of jail inmates keeping in mind the beneficial nature and reformatory goals of such facilities.
In January, 2010, while hearing a public interest litigation on treatment facilities for HIV positive inmates, the Bombay High Court had directed the Maharashtra government to examine the possibility of allowing jail inmates to engage sexually with their wives in privacy within the jail premises as a preventive step instead of spending crores of Rupees to curb AIDS menace in prisons.
Sahni says, "In Delhi prisons, inmates suffer insulation from their families as their contact with the outside world remains limited to phones, letters and meetings – colloquially called 'Mulakat' which is hardly private and can be called off by the prison officials at any moment".
He adds that most of the prisoners in Delhi jails fall under sexually active age group i.e. 21-50 years but are denied conjugal rights which is one of the reasons for increasing sex crimes, homosexuality, violence and spread of HIV in jails.
Besides, denial of conjugal rights is a violation of fundamental rights of not just the inmates but also of their spouses who suffer without any wrong.