April 1, 2021 1:32:00 am
For over three months, a 21-month-old boy’s address was Tihar Jail, where he was staying with his mother, who is facing trial for allegedly forcing a relative to abort her unborn child while pressing for dowry. The woman who lost her unborn child committed suicide later.
A Delhi judge has now granted bail to the accused, observing that it was “in fact a release of her little child to freedom”.
Additional Sessions Judge Vishal Gogne Wednesday observed that the trial has “not even commenced and is likely to take a length of time to complete, (and) the son of the accused, barely two years in age, cannot be condemned to spending his early childhood in jail”.
“Such a fate would be a violation of his right to healthy development as an individual,” the court said.
The court observed: “It bears empathetic but emphatic mention that the continued detention of a child of a tender age, even if in the custody of the mother… would have a forseeable adverse influence on his socialisation, sensory enrichment and overall physical and mental development. The options for preschool and other educational enhancement would necessarily be restricted inside the Central Jail,Tihar.”
The woman was accused in a dowry death case registered on December 5, 2020. The father of woman who committed suicide alleged that she was pressured for a motorcycle by the accused and her relatives, and that the accused made her consume a pill to abort her three-month-old foetus.
The court said it was “inclined to view with greater appreciation and empathy the ground for bail which shines light upon the often forgotten victims of incarceration viz the children of imprisoned parents.”
The court said that even though accused persons may not be granted bail for various reasons, however, “denial of bail to such persons, especially women does, however, often operate as de facto detention of their infant/toddler wards.”
“Being neither the subject of trial nor required to be in detention for any reason, such children still languish in jail for terms coterminus with the period of detention of their mother,” the court said.
The court relied on various provisions of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, 1989 Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015 to state that “detention of children should be a matter of last resort and for the shortest period of time.”
The court also noted that the child has “not yet seen two years in this world” and is “not a child in conflict with law or a child in need of care and protection”.
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