Bid to kill infant son: HC sets aside proceedings against woman

The Aurangabad bench of the Bombay High Court quashed an FIR against a 25-year-old woman who was booked for attempting to kill her three-month-old son on two different occasions. The court, after hearing submissions made by both sides, was convinced that the mother was suffering from postpartum depression and her instinct to kill the child was under the attack of a psychiatric disorder.

A division bench of Justice S S Shinde and Justice K K Sonawane observed that no mother in her right mind would try to intentionally kill her child.

Quashing the FIR and setting aside the criminal proceedings, the court held that the mother was not mentally sound or capable to understand the seriousness of the act or its consequences because of her psychiatric condition and therefore it was unjust to hold her an accused.

Savita Chaudhari, a resident of Osmanabad was married to 42-year-old Manish, an agricultural assistant, and they had two children. On December 9, 2016, Manish was told over the phone that his three-month-old son had been administered a poisonous insecticide by an unknown person and was admitted to hospital in a critical condition. He immediately filed a case. The minor was shifted to the ICU of another hospital. While the infant was being treated, Savita lifted him from there and tried to abandon the infant near a scrap dumpyard and kill him with a boulder. A few locals rescued the child and informed the police. Investigations revealed that Savita tried to kill her child on both the occasions and the Vashi police booked her on attempt to murder charges.

A chargesheet was filed against her and trial was pending before the sessions court in Bhoom when the accused approached the HC seeking quashing of the proceedings owing to her mental condition called “postpartum depression”, a psychiatric disorder that changes the behaviour of the mother during pregnancy and after the delivery.

She had been out on bail on the same grounds. Her lawyer submitted that she committed the crime due to her mental ailment and “not with an ulterior motive or ill intention”. Her husband and family members also conceded about the mental illness and the same was certified by doctors and medical experts. The family also informed the court that during the time she was out on bail she had fully recovered and that she and her son were under proper care and the family had no grievance against the past conduct of Savita.

After going through the family’s affidavits, documents of her medical treatment and case documents, the court was convinced that Savita committed the offence because of her mental disorder. “Each and every mother, including Savita, would have love and affection towards their newly born. She could not have thought of committing such a gruesome act intentionally or with an ulterior motive. No mother will deliberately try to snuff the life out of a newborn. She committed the act under the influence of her mental condition. Therefore, it is unjust to fasten the guilt on the applicant,” stated the court.

It also considered provision under Section 84 of the IPC, which provides protection to person of unsound mind from considering his/her act as an offence under the law. “In this case, she was not mentally conscious to realise the consequences of her act or the seriousness of it. We have no hesitation to exercise the inherent powers under Section 482 of CrPC to quash the FIR and set aside the proceedings in the case against Savita,” the bench held.

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