‘Insane due to PMS’: Rajasthan HC acquits woman accused of murdering child
The woman was accused of pushing three children, two boys and a girl, into a well in August 1981Updated: Aug 07, 2018 10:25 IST
The Rajasthan High Court has acquitted a woman accused of murdering a child more than three decades ago on the ground that she was suffering from insanity triggered by premenstrual stress syndrome (PMS) at the time of the crime.
The bench of justice Mohammad Rafiq and justice Goverdhan Bardhar, in a judgment delivered on August 1, stressed on the fact that three doctors spoke in favour of Kumari Chandra, a resident of Nasirabad in the state’s Ajmer district.
“In the present case, not one but three doctors, who treated her on different occasions, have deposed in favour of such plea of insanity set up by the defence,” a copy of the court judgment accessed by HT on Monday reads.
Chandra was accused of pushing three children, two boys and a girl, into a well in August 1981. One of the boys and the girl were saved by people who witnessed the incident but the other boy had drowned.
“Although the law has not much developed in India as to the premenstrual stress syndrome (PMS) being set up as the defense of insanity, yet the accused has a right to plead and probabilize such defence to show that she was suffering from ‘premenstrual stress syndrome’ when the crime was committed and because of her such condition, the offence that she committed was an involuntary act on her part,” states the judgment.
A trial court in Ajmer had convicted Chandra in January 1987 under sections 302 (punishment for murder), 307 (attempt to murder) and 374 (unlawful compulsory labour) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and ordered to undergo life imprisonment under section 302 with a fine of Rs 100.
Her lawyer VR Bajwa argued that the trial court had committed an error in holding that the accused had kidnapped the children with the intention to kill them. He pleaded she was suffering from a ‘mental disease’ known as premenstrual stress syndrome, which made her dangerously aggressive some days prior to the beginning of her menstrual cycle.
Bajwa cited reports of doctors who had treated her with one of them stating that some women do not remain normal in the days preceding their cycle. Another doctor claimed Chandra had such severe symptoms of PMS that he had to induce her with tranquillizers.
The bench, in its judgment, quoted extensively from research papers and reports by international experts including one by Dr Patricia Easteal, senior criminologist, Australian Institute of Criminology, Canberra and also referred to an article on PMS published in the Duke Law Journal and a paper by Catherine Dolton, an international authority on the syndrome.
PMS is a condition that affects a woman’s emotional and physical health, and her behaviour during certain days of the menstrual cycle, generally just before her periods.
According to Mayo Clinic, it has a wide variety of signs and symptoms, including mood swings, tender breasts, food cravings, fatigue, irritability and depression. It’s estimated that as many as three of every four menstruating women have experienced some form of premenstrual syndrome.