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West Bengal: 196 Babies Reportedly Born to Female Prisoners in Custody, Calcutta HC Informed

The amicus curiae mentioned these details during the hearing of a case concerning correctional homes and prison reforms in West Bengal.
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Calcutta high court. Image Courtesy: Wikimedia Commons

The Calcutta High Court was informed on Thursday that female prisoners are getting pregnant while in custody across West Bengal. The court raised serious concerns over the issue. 

As per the amicus curiae, an estimated 196 babies were reportedly born in various correctional facilities in West Bengal. The amicus curiae mentioned these details during the hearing of a case concerning correctional homes and prison reforms in West Bengal. 

While mentioning the matter, the amicus curiae told the court about a first-hand observation "of a pregnant woman and 15 children born within a visited correctional home, underscoring the urgency of addressing the systemic challenges faced by incarcerated women in West Bengal." 

The division bench hearing the matter was presided over by Chief Justice TS Sivagnanam and Justice Supratim Bhattacharya. 

Both the judges expressed their grave concerns and scheduled the matter for hearing before a division bench dealing with criminal cases. 

While mentioning the matter, the amicus curiae suggested that as a preventive measure, male employees should be prevented from entering facilities holding women prisoners. Another suggestion given by the amicus curiae involved letting "all the District Judges (as they are the Chairman of the Board of Visitors) visit correctional homes under their respective jurisdiction to find out how many women prisoners have become pregnant during their stay in correctional homes." 

Furthermore, it was suggested that chief judicial magistrates must conduct pregnancy tests on all women prisoners before they are sent to correctional homes "to prevent their sexual exploitation."  

"Pregnancy tests to this effect should be done by all police stations in West Bengal. Necessary orders/directions may be given by this Hon’ble Court to this effect," the note prepared by the amicus said.

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