Madurai: The Madras High Court has allowed a 40-year-old convict serving life imprisonment in the central prison in Tirunelveli district to go on a two-week leave for the "purpose of procreation".
A division bench of Justices S Vimala Devi and T Krishna Valli granted the two-week temporary leave to Siddique Ali, an inmate of Palayamkottai Central jail on a Habeas Corpus petition filed by his 32-year-old wife.
The bench then observed that it was time the government forms a committee to consider allowing conjugal visits to prisoners and that many countries had given them such rights.
"It is time the government constitutes a committee to consider possibilities of providing conjugal visits and analyse the merits and demerits of permitting conjugal visits," it said.
The judges further noted that the Centre had already passed a resolution that conjugal visits are a right and not privilege and prisoners should be entitled to have their wish.
"The right of prisoners for conjugal visits has been recognised in a few countries. If prisons are overcrowded the government should find solution for such problems," they said.
"Conjugal visits help prisoners maintain relationship with families, reduce recidivism and motivate and an incentive to good prisoners. Reforming the prisoners is part of the correctional mechanism provided in the criminal justice," the judges observed.
In the present case, the judges said preliminary investigation has found that there was a possibility of the prisoner having a child.
After due medical treatment on release, an additional two weeks leave could be considered, they added.
Rejecting the plea of prison officials that Ali's s life was in danger and there was no provision in the prison manual for giving leave on such grounds, the judges stated that under extraordinary reasons prisoners could be given leave.
"Providing for release of prisoner for the purpose of procreation of child with available law can be done. It can be interpreted as a request covered under extraordinary reason" they said.
The judges then directed the prison authorities to follow usual procedures and safeguards when the prisoner was out of jail.
They should provide an escort in civil dress, they added.