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‘Female Prisoners Pregnant in Bengal Jails, 196 Babies Born’: SC Takes cognisance

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The Supreme Court has taken cognizance of a concerning issue regarding some women prisoners lodged in correctional homes in West Bengal getting pregnant. A matter presented before the apex court highlighted the pregnancy of women prisoners and revealed that 196 babies were residing in various correctional facilities across the state.

Responding to the issue, a bench comprising Justices Sanjay Kumar and Ahsanuddin Amanullah agreed to examine the matter further. Senior advocate Gaurav Agrawal, who has been assisting the top court as amicus curiae in a case related to overcrowding in jails, was tasked with investigating the issue and submitting a report.

“It is interesting to note that women prisoners, while in custody, are getting pregnant. Subsequently, babies are born in prisons. At present, 196 babies are staying in different prisons of West Bengal,” amicus curiae of all correctional homes in the state informed the Calcutta high court, according to a Hindustan Times report.

An amicus curiae presented two notes to the Calcutta High Court’s division bench of Chief Justice TS Sivagnanam and Justice Supratim Bhattacharya, advocating for the prohibition of male staffers from correctional homes entering the enclosure of women prisoners.

“Recently, I visited a women’s correctional home along with the inspector general (special) of correctional homes and secretary of the district legal services authority. I found one pregnant lady and at least 15 other women prisoners staying with their children. They were born in the prison”, HT quoted the amicus curiae as saying.

The Calcutta High Court, on the other hand, ordered the transfer of the matter to a criminal division bench. Lawyer Tapas Kumar Bhanja, appointed as amicus curiae by the court in a 2018 suo motu motion on prison overcrowding, submitted a note containing these issues and suggestions before the division bench chaired by Chief Justice T S Sivagnanam.

The note highlighted “certain serious issues,” including the pregnancy of women prisoners while in custody. According to the amicus curiae’s note, there are currently 196 babies residing in various prisons in West Bengal.

To address these concerns, Bhanja recommended the prohibition of male employees of correctional homes from entering the enclosures of women prisoners, aiming to safeguard their rights and well-being.

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