CONJUGAL VISIT FOR PRISONERS
8th December, 2022 Polity and Governance
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- The Punjab Government has promoted the right to life and personal liberty of prisoners by allowing conjugal visits for inmates.
- Conjugal rights are rights formed by marriage; the right of the husband or the wife to the company of their spouse.
- In the context of prisons; conjugal visits refer to the concept of allowing a prisoner to spend some time in privacy with his spouse within the jail.
- Significance: It is expected that conjugal visits can have positive impacts on the psychological health of prisoners, preservation of marital ties and, reduction in the rates of homosexuality and sexual aggression within prisons.
- The initiative is expected to strengthen matrimonial bonds and also ensure the good conduct of prisoners.
- Conjugal visits are internationally recognized through the United Nations Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights etc.
- In India, Most prison Acts and Rules across the country accept the importance of maintenance of continuity in family and social relations.
- Judicial view
- In the Jasvir Singh vs State of Punjab case, the High Court held that the right to conjugality is available to prisoners under Article 21, subject to restrictions.
- In the case of Meharaj vs State case, the Madras High court stated that even though conjugal visits could not be held as a fundamental right, the prisoner would still be eligible to avail leave for conjugal visits if there are ‘extraordinary reasons’ such as ‘infertility treatments.’
● The Punjab model
- The guidelines clarify that conjugal visits are a matter of privilege rather than a right.
- The average time for conjugal visits shall be 2 hours allowed once every two months.
- The visiting spouse has to provide marriage proof and medical certificates declaring that he or she is free from HIV or any other sexually transmitted disease, COVID-19 or any other infectious disease.
- This facility will not be available for high-risk prisoners, terrorists, child abuse and sexual offenders, death row convicts, prisoners who suffer from HIV etc.