'Breastfeeding a fundamental right of lactating mother'

Breastfeeding a fundamental right of lactating mother: HC

The court said that in the light of domestic law and international law, breastfeeding needs to be recognised as an inalienable right of a lactating mother

Representative image. Credit: iStock Images

The Karnataka High Court has held that breastfeeding is an inalienable right of lactating mother, protected under the Fundamental Rights guaranteed in the constitution. The court made the observation while hearing petitions involving the custody of a child between the biological mother and the foster mother.

The court said that in the light of domestic law and international law, breastfeeding needs to be recognised as an inalienable right of a lactating mother. “Similarly, the right of the suckling infant for being breastfed too, has to be assimilated with mother’s right; arguably, it is a case of concurrent rights; this important attribute of motherhood, is protected under the umbrella of Fundamental Rights guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution of India,” Justice Krishna S Dixit said.

In this peculiar case, which generated a charged atmosphere in the court hall, Justice Krishna Dixit appreciated the kind gestures exhibited by the two women, hailing from two different religious backgrounds. The child, born in Bengaluru city in 2020, was allegedly lifted from the cradle of the hospital. It landed on the lap of the foster mother and a case of kidnapping was filed. However, it was submitted across the bar that the foster mother is only an innocent victim of circumstances.

The court disposed of the petitions directing that there shall be no cause of action against the foster parents in civil or criminal law concerning the alleged kidnapping of the child. The bench also said that it was unfortunate that the child, for no fault, remained un-breastfed while its lactating mother had no access to it till now. “In a civilized society such things should never happen,” the court said.

The counsel for the foster mother contended that she does not have any children whereas the biological mother has already two at home and therefore, the custody of the child should be allowed to continue with her. However, she had delivered the custody of the child to its biological parents. And, the biological mother stated that the foster mother may see the child whenever her heart desires.

“Such kind gestures coming from two women hailing from two different religious backgrounds, are marked by their rarity, nowadays; thus, this legal battle for the custody of the pretty child is drawn to a close with a happy note, once for all,” Justice Krishna Dixit said.

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