In a historic verdict with far-reaching implications, the Punjab and Haryana high court has allowed married jail inmates to have sex with their partners to have a child. The court has held the convicts’ and jail inmates’ right to have conjugal visits or artificial insemination for procreation to be a fundamental right.
The orders were passed on a petition filed by a couple - Jasvir Singh and Sonia - currently in Central Jail, Patiala. The duo were awarded the death penalty for kidnapping and killing a 16-year-old boy of a Hoshiarpur family for a hefty ransom. The duo had sought permission to stay together and resume their conjugal life for progeny and wanted the court to order the necessary arrangements. Jasvir had pleaded that he was the only son of his parents and that he had enjoyed company of his wife only for eight months and that the demand was not for personal sexual gratification. The court found no inherent conflict between the right to procreate and incarceration. However, it is subject to reasonable restrictions, social order and security concerns, said the court.
The court, however, while denying Jasvir's plea in view of the heinous nature of his crime, enlarged the scope of the petition in greater public interest and held that the right to life and personal liberty under Article 21 includes the right of jail inmates to have conjugal visits or artificial insemination for procreation. The court further held that the rights were to be regulated by law and were the sole prerogative of the state. For this, the court ordered a jail reforms committee to be headed by a retired high court judge, which would formulate a scheme for conjugal and family visits in jail and would also identify the eligible categories of inmates.