Man to hang, wife in jail; they want artificial insemination

Four days before he is scheduled to be hanged, a convicted murderer has asked Punjab and Haryana High Court for permission to continue his family line through artificial insemination. This is possibly the first request of its kind in the country.

Jasbir Singh, his wife Sonia, and one Vikramjit Singh were found guilty of murdering Abhi Verma, the 16-year-old son of a Hoshiarpur jeweller in 2005. Sonia is serving a life term in prison; both Jasbir and she are now in Patiala Central Jail.

The Punjab government had earlier turned down the couple's plea for conjugal rights. Jasbir is set to be hanged on October 12, but he and Vikramjit have prepared to file a mercy plea before the President.

During the resumed hearing of the couple's petition seeking conjugal rights filed last year, advocate G K Mann on Monday told high court Justice Surya Kant that Jasbir and Sonia had agreed on artificial insemination. The Punjab government opposed the plea, saying there was no provision for artificial insemination in the Prison Act.

Observing that the matter is of serious nature and required consideration, the high court asked the lawyer to meet Sonia in jail and "counsel" her that having a child was an "onerous duty" that came with "social responsibilities". The court has given Mann two days to speak to Sonia before making its decision.

The court also discussed the future, if allowed, of the child. Mann assured the court that Jasbir's father would take full responsibility for the child.

Jasbir, Sonia and Vikramjit were sentenced to death by a Hoshiarpur court on December 21, 2006. The high court confirmed the sentences on May 30, 2008. The Supreme Court commuted Sonia's sentence to life.

Vikramjit and Jasbir were ordered to be hanged on October 3. The moved the high court challenging the validity of the death sentence under Section364 A of the Indian Penal Code (kidnapping for ransom). A division bench headed by Justice Surya Kant turned down the appeal last week, but in order to allow them to appeal to the Supreme Court, directed the superintendent pf Patiala Jail to keep the hanging order in abeyance until October 12.

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