PIL for conjugal visitation rights of prisoners: HC seeks AAP govt's reply
NEW DELHI: A petition has been filed in the Delhi High Court seeking to allow conjugal visits in prisons, with the argument that such a step is necessary to meet the fundamental and human rights of those incarcerated and also the spouses of those behind bars who suffer without any fault of their own.
Terming the issue raised in the plea as "very interesting", a division Bench of Chief Justice Rajendra Menon and Justice Brijesh Sethi on Friday asked the Delhi government and Director General of Prisons to file a response to the petition and listed the matter for further hearing on August 2.
Social activist and lawyer Amit Sahni, who filed the petition through advocate N. Hariharan, told the court that denial of the right to conjugal visits abrogates basic fundamental rights as well as human rights of inmates in Delhi prisons.
The concept of a conjugal visit is to allow a prison inmate to spend a particular period of time in private with legal spouse, during which they may also engage in sexual activity.
In his plea, Sahni said conjugal visitation rights were not provided in prisons in the state though most of the prisoners fall in the category of sexually active age group. "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 inmates, the Delhi Prison Rules, 2018 are totally silent on the issue," the petition said.
"The conjugal visit cannot be denied to prisoners on the ground of already existing provisions of parole and furlough, which in any case, are not available to undertrial prisoners," the plea said.
The petitioner has sought direction to set aside Rule 608 of Delhi Prison Rule, 2018, which mandate the presence of a prison officer when a prisoner is meeting his or her spouse.
He said that his petition is solely guided by the plight of many inmates and their spouses who, though not incarcerated, end up suffering the loss of conjugal relationship and the desire of becoming parents.
Conjugal visits can be a preventive step to control sexually transmitted disease and the high rate of sexual crimes in prisons, the petitioner added.