Surprising news has come from the jails of West Bengal. Amicus curiae of all the correctional homes across the state have said in their report submitted to the Calcutta High Court that female prisoners lodged in the jails of West Bengal are getting pregnant. The report submitted to the High Court said, “Women prisoners are becoming pregnant while staying in jails and due to this, at least 196 children have been born in jails across the state.” Amicus Curiae in this case on Thursday, Calcutta. High Court Chief Justice placed two notes before the division bench comprising Justice TS Sivagnanam and Justice Supratim Bhattacharya. Reading out the third paragraph of the first note, the amicus curiae said, “My Lord, it would be surprising to know that a female prisoner has become pregnant while in custody. After this, children are also being born in jails. Presently 196 children are living in various jails of West Bengal.
Along with this, the Amicus Curiae requested the division bench led by the Chief Justice that the entry of male employees posted in correctional homes inside the enclosures of female prisoners should be banned with immediate effect. He also said: “Recently I visited a women’s correctional home along with the Inspector General of Correctional Homes (Special) and the Secretary of the District Legal Services Authority. There I found that a pregnant woman and at least 15 other female prisoners were living with their children. Those children were born in jail itself.” After this, the division bench of Chief Justice TS Sivagananam and Justice Supratim Bhattacharya handed over the case to another bench. When the Amicus Curiae was narrating the Hal-e-Jail case, the government lawyer was also present there. Taking the notes on record, the bench said, “The matter referred to by the Amicus Curiae points to a serious set of issues. “Women prisoners are becoming pregnant while in jail and currently 196 children are living in various jails of West Bengal.”
A senior IPS officer of the West Bengal Correctional Services said that if a woman with a child below six years of age is arrested, the child is allowed to stay in the jail with the mother. He said, “Children below six years of age are allowed to stay with their mothers in jail but I have no knowledge of women getting pregnant in jails. This is unlikely. If it comes to my notice, I will definitely look into it.” Sources said that as of January 1, 2024, about 26000 prisoners were living in 60 jails of West Bengal. Of these, about 8% to 10% are women prisoners. As of January, at least 1265 undertrial women prisoners and 448 convicts were lodged in the state jails. About 174 women prisoners are serving life imprisonment. The High Court is now likely to hear the matter on Monday.