The State of Punjab has recently furthered the cause of right to life and personal liberty of prisoners by allowing conjugal visits for inmates.

 

About the ‘conjugal rights’

  • Conjugal rights are rights created by marriage, that is, the right of the husband or the wife to the company of their spouse.
  • In the context of prisons, however, conjugal visits refer to the concept of allowing a prisoner to spend some time in privacy with his spouse within the precincts of a jail.
  • Impact — It is often argued that conjugal visits can have positive impacts in the form of psychological health benefits for prisoners, preservation of marital ties and, reduction in the rates of homosexuality and sexual aggression within prisons. Aside from the above, it is also argued that conjugal visits are a fundamental right of the spouses of the prisoners.
  • Prisoner rights are internationally recognised through the United Nations Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights etc.
  • Through such instruments, prisoners are guaranteed the right to life and inherent dignity.
  • The right to maintain family relations including conjugal visits are included in these treaties.
  • Most prison Acts and Rules across the country accept the importance of maintenance of continuity in family and social relations.