The Bombay High Court has upheld the murder conviction of a mother who killed her infant daughter of 2 months.

The Division Bench of Justice A.S. Gadkari and Justice Milind N. Jadhav was hearing a plea of the mother-Appellant who had assailed the judgment of the Additional Sessions Judge-1, Niphad convicting the Appellant under Section 235(2) CrPC for offence punishable under Section 302 IPC and sentenced her to life imprisonment and to pay fine of Rs.1000/- in default, to suffer further rigorous imprisonment for two months.

The Appellant was convicted for the offence of murder of her own infant daughter (2 months) by throwing her in the well and causing her death due to drowning.

The investigation revealed that 8 months prior to the incident husband of the Appellant fled away with the advance amount which he received towards the work of sugarcane cutting; at that time Appellant was four months pregnant Hence, she came to reside with her parents in the village Satyagaon. She delivered a female child. She along with her parents worked as a sugarcane-cutting laborer on the farm.

The Prosecution case was based on circumstantial evidence and medical evidence. The deceased infant was two months old, and a sucking child on the date of the incident.

The question before the Trial Court was whether the death of the said infant was homicidal.

Counsel Mr. Purekar appeared for the Appellant while APP Mr. Dedhia appeared for the State before the Court.

The Court noted that as per the medical evidence and injuries shown in the post-mortem report was possible if an infant to be thrown into the well and thus it is clear that the death of the said baby was homicidal.

Further, the Court observed, "Before we advert to any conclusion it would be apposite to reiterate the settled position of law while considering any case based on circumstantial evidence, it has been held that onus is on the prosecution to prove that the chain of circumstances is complete and the infirmity of lacunae in prosecution cannot be cured by false defence or plea. The conditions precedent to be fully established are laid down by the Apex court in the case of Sharad Birdhichand Sarda v. State of Maharashtra."

Additionally, the Bench held, "The argument of the learned Advocate for the Appellant that some other person may be the author of the crime cannot be accepted, from the evidence on record as the same is not discernible. If it would have been the case that the crime is committed by some other person than the Appellant, then it is difficult to fathom that Appellant did not lodge a missing report for her own child after 14.03.2010, for the next three days, until recording of statements of two villagers, it was not revealed that Appellant was the mother of the deceased infant."

The Court thus observed that as the deceased infant was a sucking child, it is improbable to believe or theorize that a two-month-old child would meet an accidental death by falling into the well.

"There are no circumstances what so ever brought on record to disbelieve the medical evidence which fully corroborates the circumstantial evidence in proving that death of Pinky (deceased infant) was homicidal," the Bench held.

The Court noted that the circumstances when put together, it was for the Appellant to show how the death of the said infant occurred when it was a sucking child or as to how the said child landed in the said well. This was certainly within the special knowledge of the Appellant herself. However, she has not countenanced all these circumstances pointing to her guilt.

The Court thus held, "Even when she was called upon to explain all the circumstances pointing towards her guilt in her statement recorded under Section 313(1)(b) of the Cr.P.C., she denied the prosecution case in toto. This conduct of Appellant clearly appears to be unnatural of a biological mother."

Thus, the Bench held that the Appellant and no other person is the author of the crime and the prosecution has proved its case beyond all reasonable doubts that the Appellant has committed the murder of her own daughter by throwing her alive in the well.

Accordingly, the Court dismissed the appeal.

Cause Title - Manisha @ Janglabai Ganesh Chavan v. The State of Maharashtra

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