Mumbai News

26 years later, Bombay high court upholds life for baby-killer mom – Times of India

MUMBAI: More than a quarter century after a woman was convicted and sentenced to life for murdering her newborn daughter, the Bombay high court on Tuesday upheld the 1994 trial court verdict. The bench of Justices R D Dhanuka and S P Tavade, while holding that the case based on circumstantial evidence stands proved, directed the convict to surrender and the trial court to secure her presence for her to serve her sentence .
The woman, a widow with five children, had first abandoned the baby by a roadside in Uran in November 1993. A witness found the baby and took her home. His mother informed the police that she had seen the accused when pregnant. Cops sent the mother and baby to a rural hospital, but they were shifted to a civil hospital in Alibaug. There, the woman took permission of a head nurse to visit the washroom. Later, the staff found the baby motionless. A postmortem examination had found that the three-day-old was ‘strangulated’, said the order.
The widow was arrested and the Raigad-Alibaug court convicted her in 1994. The accused appealed against her guilty verdict and in 1996, the HC granted her bail, pending appeal. In April 2009, the HC directed that a non-bailable warrant be issued against her, but a decade later, in November 2019, the police said she was untraceable. This January, since her lawyer too did not appear in court, the HC directed the legal aid committee to appoint one for her.
Advocate Kishore Walanju, assigned for her defence, sought acquittal arguing lack of evidence to establish her as either the mother or murderer. There were no eyewitnesses, he said, and asked why no hospital staff was questioned. But Mankuvar Deshmukh, assistant public prosecutor, said the convict herself gave her delivery details to a medical officer, and she and baby were kept in a maternity ward with no one else nearby.
The HC said the evidence of the doctor on the homicidal death is not disputed. “…The motive can be proved by circumstances of the case and acts of the culprit,” the bench said. For the accused, a widow for eight years, the birth of another child would have “created problem-…shame… Hence she had a clear motive to “do away with the child”, it added.