A mother, who was convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment for allegedly strangulating her baby hours after her birth as she was a girl, has got relief from the Supreme Court which acquitted her by saying that it was "totally unnatural" for the woman to kill her own child.
The apex court, while allowing the appeal filed by the woman challenging the March 2010 judgement of the Delhi High Court upholding her conviction and sentence, said there was no "clear evidence on record" to hold her guilty of the offence.
"It is true that in the post-mortem, doctor has opined that death (of child) is due to asphyxia and there were marks of strangulation, but at the same time if totality of evidence on record is considered, motive is not established and it is totally unnatural for the appellant-mother to kill her own baby by strangulation," a bench of Justices M M Shantanagoudar and R Subhash Reddy said.
In its December 17 verdict, the bench said it was clear from the evidence on record that immediately after birth, the baby was put in an incubator with an oxygen mask and she had neither opened her eyes nor cried.
According to the prosecution, the woman had delivered the child at a hospital here on August 24, 2007 and had allegedly strangulated the baby as she was a girl after she was handed over to her on the same date.
On August 26, 2007 post-mortem was conducted and on August 31, 2007 a case was registered against the mother for the alleged offence under section 302 (murder) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).
The trial court had delivered the judgment in December 2009 and sentenced her to life imprisonment after holding her guilty of murdering the child.
The woman had approached the high court challenging the trial court's verdict.
The high court had in March 2010 upheld the trial court's verdict.
During the arguments on the appeal in the apex court, the counsel appearing for the woman had argued that there was no reason for her to commit the murder of her newborn baby girl as she already had a male child.
The lawyer also argued that the mother was under the effect of sleep-inducing drugs administered to her and the newborn was dead by the time she saw her.
"By considering the oral evidence on record and taking into consideration the post-mortem report, the appellant was convicted for the offence by attributing motive that she has strangulated her because the newborn is a baby girl. There is no evidence on record to draw such a conclusion against the appellant," the top court said.
"In absence of any clear evidence on record, high court, as well as the trial court, committed error in attributing motive to the appellant that she has killed her baby as she was female," the bench said while setting aside the verdicts of the high court as well as the trial court.