• Sunday, March 03, 2024

HEADLINE STORY

Punjab becomes 1st state in India to allow prisoners to spend private time with spouses in jails

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By: Shubham Ghosh

Punjab recently became the first Indian state to allow its prisoners conjugal visits and a 60-year-old man, accused of murder, was the first to benefit, the BBC reported.

Gurjeet Singh, who is in Goindwal Jail in Tarn Taran district of the state for the past few months, told the website that he was feeling “lonely and depressed” in jail and it was “a great relief” for him when he got to meet his wife and spend some hours with her privately.

Singh got to meet his wife after Punjab’s prison authorities said inmates who showed good conduct would be permitted to meet their spouses every two months for a couple of hours.

According to the prison authorities who spoke to the BBC, more than 1,000 prisoners in the state have applied for permission for such visits and almost half of them have already taken place.

The BBC report also said that in some other Indian states such as Rajasthan and Maharashtra, prisoners who are noticed for good conduct are allowed to stay in open prisons with their families and courts across the country have often given permission to prisoners leave for “procreation” or to “maintain marital relations”, Sunil Singh, a lawyer at India’s top court, told the website.

But not all are equally fortunate. He said a majority of more than half a million prisoners in India do not get to meet their spouses for years.

In Punjab, which became the first state in India to allow conjugal meetings inside jails, the scheme was started in three of the state’s 25 prisons on September 20. By October 3, it was expanded to cover 17 prisons. As far as the remaining jails are concerned, the officials said they are too small to provide such facilities.

One of the jails is meant for children.

The jails participating in the scheme have been ordered to set up a room with a bed and an attached bathroom to allow the couple privacy. The government has also ordered that married couples be allowed to have sex and in some prisons, arrangements have also been made to provide condoms, the BBC added.

Senior prison department official Harpreet Sidhu told the BBC that the decision “was taken to keep the stress levels of inmates in control and to ensure their re-entry into the society” and that “conjugal visits for sexual intercourse fulfil a basic biological need”.

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