The Supreme Court has said that a woman convict having three minor children to support could be given a lenient sentence. However, the same will not be extended towards a woman who has committed a crime as a terrorist.

The case in question is one in which a woman helped a man rob Rs 27,000 from another man by administering spiked drinks. The victim was beaten up and the woman was given a sentence of up to 10 years.

A Chamba trial court noted that the woman had three kids, two of whom were mentally unstable. So in 2003, it said that her sentence should be reduced to two years.

The Himachal HC after 9 years said that the sentence should be erased and she should have to face a fine of Rs 30,000. The matter was taken to the Supreme Court. 

Justices A K Sikri and Ashok Bhushan said that leniency for women criminals is justified, but the sentence should not be erased.

There is absolutely no reason why a women should not be subject to the same sentencing norms as men, says Mayank Mukherjee

“In this backdrop, the question is as to whether the respondent being a lady and having three minor children will be extenuating reasons? …In so far as the Indian judicial mind is concerned, I find that in certain decisions of this court, gender is taken as the relevant circumstance while fixing the quantum of sentence. I may add that it would depend upon the facts of each case, whether it should be treated as a relevant consideration and no hard and fast rule can be laid down,” said Justice Sikri.

Lawyer Mayank Mukherjee tells SheThePeople.TV that this is a very regressive stance, especially when you are saying men and women are equal. There is absolutely no reason why a women should not be subject to the same sentencing norms as men.

He says that with greater equality there also arises a greater responsibility to the community. If the issue was that there was nobody else to take care of the children, it would be alright. The issue is not reduction of the sentence, it is reduction of the sentence based on gender. This stance implies men and women aren’t equal and shows even the Supreme Court is not insulated.

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