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Bombay high court exonerates woman who tried to kill her baby

The Bombay HC quashed criminal proceedings against a woman who had tried to kill her child, saying that she was suffering from post-natal depression and thus, was unaware of her actions

mumbai Updated: Apr 03, 2017 10:42 IST
Kanchan Chaudhari
Kanchan Chaudhari
Hindustan Times
mumbai,mumbai news,bombay high court
The court said that in view of the exception as under Section 84 of the Indian Penal Code, Savita’s attempt to kill her infant cannot be treated as an offence.(HT)

The Bombay high court has struck down criminal proceedings initiated against a 26-year-old woman for attempting to kill her own infant, on the grounds that she was suffering from postnatal depression, seen in many women after child-birth.

“She was incapable of realising the nature and consequences of her act,” said the bench of Justice SS Shinde and Justice KK Sonawane, while quashing proceedings initiated against Savita Choudhari, a resident of Ramnagar in Osmanabad district, Maharashtra.

The incident took place on December 9, 2015, three months after Savita gave birth to a son. The infant had been admitted to a local hospital allegedly after someone poisoned him. The case being medico-legal one, her husband lodged a complaint against unidentified persons, on the basis of which an offence for attempt to kill the infant was registered with the Washi police station.

In the course of investigations, the child was required to be shifted to Ashwini Hospital in Solapur, as his condition had become critical, and he was admitted to the intensive care unit. During treatment, Savita took the child out and tried to kill him. After some locals saw her trying to kill the baby, they raised a cry, at which she abandoned the child near a garbage dump and left the spot. An FIR was registered against Savita in Solapur, on the basis of the complaint of a local.

Washi police investigated both the cases and charged Savita with attempt to murder under Section 307 of the Indian Penal Code. While the matter was pending with the Sessions court, she approached the high court.

The high court accepted her plea that she was insane, after noticing that the 26-year-old was suffering from postpartum depression. The court said that in view of the exception as under Section 84 of the Indian Penal Code, Savita’s attempt to kill her infant cannot be treated as an offence.

Postpartum depression (PPD), also called postnatal depression, is a type of clinical condition, which can affect both sexes after child birth. Symptoms include sadness, changes in sleeping and eating patterns, anxiety and irritability. While many women experience self-limited, mild symptoms postpartum, postpartum depression sometimes also become severe, especially when it lasts over two weeks, and requires immediate medical attention.

The high court noted that the circumstances brought on record categorically demonstrate that she was not capable of understanding the nature or seriousness of her act. “She was not conscious to realise the consequences of her act,” said the court, adding, “She did not know that it was wrong.”


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