The Girl child and the law: India

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Killing of girl child by mother

From the archives of The Times of India 2010

Go soft on mothers who kill girl child: HC to govt

Tells Law Secy To Frame Law For Clemency

Abhinav Garg | TNN

New Delhi: On a day Delhi High Court ruled in favour of empowering women in Army, a co-ordinate bench strongly advocated taking a lenient view of mothers convicted for female infanticide.

A division bench comprising Justice Pradeep Nandrajog and Justice Suresh Kait on Friday ‘‘recommended’’ to the Delhi government to frame rules that allow the government to decide if remission of sentence or clemency can be granted to women convicted of killing their own children.

‘‘Crime against the female child is a product of perverse social norms and perverse social thinking... the mother is a mere puppet with strings being pulled by men who lecture her,” the bench noted, asking the law secretary of Delhi to consider the high court’s recommendations on framing of special rules in this regard. “The turbulent waves of social thinking have called her to folly and the desert has called her to doom,’’ the high court judges observed.

The judges, however, clarified ‘‘our concern for compassion for the appellant is not that it is acceptable to us that female infanticide is not a serious offence’’ and added that it ought to be appreciated that more often the killer mother is a victim of circumstances and illiteracy and has no other choice as she is pushed into a corner with no support.

In recommending to the government, the high court relied upon a precedent present in Kerala which has rules for women convicted for female infanticide.

The high court was hearing one such case where the mother had throttled her baby girl to death hours after giving birth in Lady Hardinge hospital in August 2007. Interestingly, the high court dismissed the appeal of Manju, the woman convicted by a lower court.

Medical records showed the girl got married at the age of 15 and became a mother a few years later.

‘‘No doubt by the time she became a mother she had attained the age of majority, but that would be as per law. Was she under the circumstances mature enough to not only think of herself but fight the social environment around her? We think not,’’ the high court bench noted.

The judges said these are the reasons why a second look is required in cases such as these because the law treats every women who kills her child as purely a murdered liable to be convicted under 302 of Indian Penal Code (IPC).

‘‘She is an ignorant lady living in a wretched condition below poverty line. That she is barely able to keep intact her soul and body is proved by the fact that her husband is a daily wager,’’ the high court judges noted while giving the order.

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