NEW DELHI: Delhi government has informed the high court that the Director General of Prisons has sent to the home department a proposal about the rights of prisoners to seek conjugal visits.
The proposal will now also be forwarded to the Union ministry of home affairs for issuing necessary instructions, the government told Delhi High Court in response to a plea arguing that conjugal visitation away from the prying eyes of prison officials is a “fundamental right.”
It submitted that several countries allow such visits. The court then granted Delhi government six weeks to apprise it of the developments that follow its recommendation and listed the matter for further hearing on January 15 next year.
The court was hearing a petition by advocate Amit Sahni seeking directions to Delhi government and DG (Prisons) to make necessary arrangements in jails for conjugal visits by spouses of the inmates.
On the PIL, the court had earlier issued notice to the authorities concerned in May 2019.
The PIL says the court must set aside the state’s prison rules that mandate the presence of a jail officer when a prisoner is meeting his or her spouse. It also urged the court to declare conjugal visit a “fundamental right” of a prisoner since despite most prisoners being in the “sexually active” age bracket they were denied conjugal visitation.
“Despite courts taking a progressive approach and various countries allowing conjugal visits considering it an important human right and also in the light of studies backing conjugal visits as a factor to cut down crimes in jail and reform the inmates, the Delhi Prison Rules, 2018 are totally silent on the issue,” the PIL said.
The plea said prisoners cannot be denied private meetings with a spouse on grounds of existing provisions of parole and furlough in the Indian penal system and added that these were anyway not available to undertrial inmates. It said conjugal visits not only ensure enforcement of the fundamental human rights of those incarcerated but also their spouses who suffer without having done any wrong.
It said various researches have shown conjugal visits reduce frequency of prison riots, sexual crimes and homosexual conduct while moving prisoners towards reformation and good behaviour.

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