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Homechevron_rightOpinionchevron_rightEditorialchevron_rightThe rights behind bars

The rights behind bars

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The rights behind bars
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The Punjab and Haryana High Court has passed a landmark judgement on Wednesday that states that the prisoners in jail also have the right to have sex with their legal partners.

The historic Court verdict held that it was the fundamental right of all jail inmates and convicts to be allowed to have conjugal visits or artificial insemination if they are married and want to have a child. Justice Surya Kant of the High Court passed the orders while considering a plea filed by the couple, Jasvir Singh and Soniya, who were awarded death penalty for kidnapping and murdering a 16 year old boy from a rich family for a bulky ransom. They are currently in the Central Jail, Patiala. The couple sought consent to stay together and resume their conjugal life for the sake of progeny and asked the Court to order the jail authorities to make necessary arrangements in this regard.

The Court however denied the plea considering the heinous nature of the crime committed but upheld the rights of the prisoners and convicts for a normal life and personal liberty under the Article 21 of the Constitution. It also ordered the formation of a jail reforms committee headed by a retired High Court Judge to study and submit a report on the matter and to formulate a scheme for creating an environment for conjugal and family visits in jail. DGP Shashi Kant has already sent a letter to the State government on January 8, in this regard.

The Mumbai High Court, during a January 14, 2010 verdict had asked the Maharashtra government about the possibility of facilitating prisoners, who have been in jail for two to three years, to meet with their partners in total privacy. Justice P B Majumdar and Justice R G Ketkar were considering the pleas on the treatment facilities for the HIV positive inmates. The judges were of the view that the HIV positive cases could be possible because of unprotected or unnatural sex. Prisoners particularly those jailed for long term are usually seen upon as heartless and cruel persons with all their human rights violated. The weaker section of the society by default falls prey to crime and other illegal activities and end up in prison. Late justice Krishna Iyer fought strongly for the rights of the prisoners initiating jail reforms that brought relief to them.

Prisoners are normal human beings with self respect and this is upheld by democrats who are now striving to prepare them for a life after their jail term. The chappathi making initiative on a commercial basis under the former DGP Alexander Jacob is an instance for such progressive reforms. Countries like Brazil, Canada, Denmark, Mexico, the Victoria state in Australia, some states in the US, Russia and UK legally permit home visits for the prisoners giving them a chance to meet their families. Prisoners are human beings and so they shouldn’t be denied the basic human rights and needs. The Court verdict is therefore historic and welcomed with huge relief.

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