Punjab's 'no' to jailed couple's plea for conjugal rights

Captive love

Recent outburst against the issue is from the Punjab government, which has refused to consider the plea of a couple, both inmates of the Central in Patiala, to exert their conjugal rights. The government’s stand was made clear in an affidavit to the Punjab and Haryana High Court in response to the couple’s plea for conjugal rights to give their family a legal heir.

The petition of the couple, Jasvir and Sonia, to the HC had the compelling rationale that the husband is facing death-row, which is why the couple pleaded for conjugal rights in prison.

Jasvir and Sonia, were convicted for kidnapping a 16-year-old boy for ransom and later killing the minor boy in Hoshiarpur. Both are now in separate cells in the jail. The Supreme Court upheld trial court’s award of death sentence to Jasvir Singh and cut down Sonia’s death sentence to life imprisonment.

Over the recent plea of the couple, the ground taken by the government is that there is no provision in the Prisons Act for conjugal rights for prisoners in India. However, several countries across the globe have found reason in restoring conjugal rights to prisoners.
Punjab and Haryana High Court advocate Pawan Girther said improved jail conditions to facilitate conjugal visits have been a part of the reform process in various nations for some time now. In Jasvir and Sonia’s case, the Punjab government has even refused to allow the use of artificial insemination in this case. Financial ramifications has been cited as a reason.

But the defence of the Punjab government has not gone down well with the Punjab and Haryana High Court, which condemned the state government for citing provisions in prison rules as an excuse for not allowing conjugal rights to convicts. Justice Surya Kant, who heard the case on Wednesday, asked the state to explain why the facility of artificial insemination cannot be made available to the couple.

In the petition, the counsel of the couple, Gursharn Kaur Mann, said their plea should be granted as it was for the sole purpose of getting progeny, preservation of cell and propagation of species, two of the most essential parts of right to life.

It said Jasvir was the only son of his parents. The petition also argued that “till the petitioners were alive and the husband not executed in line with the court’s orders, they had a right to life, which included the right to propagate species, and sex life”.

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