Calcutta HC Rejects Plea Seeking Mandatory Pregnancy Tests For Women Prisoners

Calcutta HC Rejects Plea Seeking Mandatory Pregnancy Tests For Women Prisoners

The court gave an example, saying it's like punishing women for street harassment. The high court emphasized that prisoners also have the right to be treated with respect. They said this twice during the hearing.

Rahul MUpdated: Wednesday, February 21, 2024, 02:22 PM IST
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Calcutta HC | Photo: Representative Image

Kolkata: The Calcutta High Court on Tuesday (February 20) said that it's not okay to force all women prisoners in West Bengal to undergo pregnancy tests. They explained that this would be invading their privacy for no good reason just because they are awaiting trial. The court gave an example, saying it's like punishing women for street harassment. The high court emphasized that prisoners also have the right to be treated with respect. They said this twice during the hearing.

As per reports in TOI, on Thursday (February 8), Tapas Bhanja, who is High Court's amicus curiae, said women prisoners were getting pregnant while they were sentenced in jail. The Supreme Court looked into the matter on the next day on Friday (February 9). During the hearing on Tuesday, when the court was listening to Tapas Bhanja's case, the idea of making pregnancy tests compulsory came up. But, the court strongly disagreed with the idea.

'Pregnancy test should only happen if she agrees to it'

Justice Bagchi said, "Imagine a woman comes to jail before her trial. We should only check her privacy as much as needed for her stay in jail,". "A pregnancy test should only happen if she agrees to it. We shouldn't invade her privacy unnecessarily just because she's suspected of a crime and brought to jail."

The court also said that the prison inmates should not be watched too closely. "We don't want to put too many restrictions on them," they said. "We should follow the law properly. If less intrusive methods can solve the problem, we should use those instead.... We shouldn't make things worse for them during the legal process."

'We believe in open justice'

When the state's lawyer Kishore Dutta asked the court to stop talking about pregnancies in jail because it could affect society, including the children, the court said: "We don't want to stop anyone from talking. We believe in open justice. But we expect everyone involved to be responsible and not say things that disrespect the court. Constructive criticism is always welcome."

'Don't reveal their identity'

The court asked Dutta to organise a meeting with everyone involved, like lawyers, and identify the problems, which they'll deal with step by step. "Talking about pregnant women in jail could harm their reputation," Justice Bagchi said. "We ask everyone involved in this legal process not to reveal their identity or anything else that might disrespect them."

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