The Madras High Court has temporarily suspended the life sentence handed down by a trial court to a 28-year-old woman who was found guilty of causing the death of her nine-year-old daughter by using insecticide.
The convict had also tried to take her own life due to her inability to repay a loan acquired through a women's self-help group (SHG).
The Court Ruling
As reported by The Hindu, a Division Bench comprising Justices SS Sundar and Sunder Mohan suspended the sentence, noting that they did not detect any intent on the part of the convict to commit homicide against her daughter.
Consequently, they believed that she should not have been convicted under Section 302 (murder) of the Indian Penal Code by the sessions court.
"The collective evidence suggests that the accused, who, due to her inability to settle the loan acquired from a women's self-help group for her family's expenses, committed the crime in a state of frustration with the intention of ending her life by ingesting poison."
As per her attorney VR Kamalanathan, the accused, Parameswari, her husband, who is now deceased, was a heavy drinker and didn't provide financial support to the family. This situation compelled her to borrow money from a women's self-help group to cover family expenses. Regrettably, she couldn't repay the loan.
Faced with this dire circumstance, Parameswari made the agonizing choice to attempt suicide, along with her elder daughter, by ingesting poison. Tragically, her daughter did not survive, but Parameswari did.
Acknowledging the presented argument, the bench remarked that it was a regrettable situation in which a mother of three had been charged with the homicide of her elder daughter.
"This court has determined that there was no intent to commit murder," stated the bench in its order, and as a result, her life sentence was temporarily halted. The bench also instructed her to make regular appearances before the trial court on the initial working day of each month and granted her bail.
Understanding The Case
Parameswari's story is one of desperation, financial hardship, and a tragic suicide attempt that resulted in the loss of her elder daughter. Her husband, who was an alcoholic, did not provide support for the family, leaving Parameswari in a dire financial situation.
Madras High Court noted that there was no clear intention on Parameswari's part to commit murder. Instead, her actions appeared to stem from an overwhelming sense of helplessness and despair.
The court acknowledged the grim circumstances in which a mother of three was accused of the murder of her own child, recognizing the depth of the tragedy. This realization prompted the bench to suspend her life sentence. They concluded that the charges of murder did not accurately reflect the situation.
The Wider Issue
Parameswari's case is a stark representation of the struggles faced by many marginalized individuals and families in India. The lack of access to adequate social support systems, financial assistance, and mental health resources can lead individuals to make desperate choices, as witnessed in this case.
The legal intervention in Parameswari's case highlights the need for a more compassionate approach to such situations. While it is essential to uphold the law and maintain justice, it is equally vital to consider the underlying factors and motivations behind a person's actions.
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