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No restrictions should be used during the whole pregnancy, during labour and delivery, or for at least a year following childbirth. Every expectant woman deserves respect while becoming a mother: Himachal Pradesh High Court

A pregnant lady who was a co-accused in a case registered under the NDPS Act was granted anticipatory release on the grounds that every pregnant woman deserves respect during her pregnancy, is upheld by the High Court of Himachal Pradesh through the learned Judge JUSTICE ANOOP CHITKARA, in the case of Monika v. State of Himachal Pradesh, (Civil Writ Petition No. 6681 of 2019).

Brief facts of the case:

Based on the facts and circumstances of this case, the High Court ruled that the applicant met the requirements for release on bail under Section 37 of the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act.

When it comes to parenthood, women deserve and need to have their sacred freedom restored by the courts. Temporary bail or postponement of punishment, up to a year after delivery, is warranted even when the charges are quite serious and the alleged offences are extremely serious. Moreover, in Justice Chitkara’s opinion, individuals who have already been found guilty and whose appeals have been exhausted are entitled to such remedy, under whatever guise it may appear.

What difference would it make to the State and society if incarceration is delayed, the Court inquired, as well as whether or not there is an immediate need to carry out the sentence.

From what we can gather, one Monika applied for pre-arrest bail when she learned that the police were planning to arrest her and her husband in connection with an NDPS case. When a large amount of heroin was found at her husband’s home, police suspected she and he were involved in the drug trade.

However, the petitioner stated that she learned about the NDPS case only after her mother-in-law was detained, so refuting the claims.

The State argued against bail, calling the crime in question “heinous” and pointing out that the petitioner had failed to meet both of the grounds for granting release set out in Section 37 of the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act.

JUDGEMNET:

However, the High Court disagreed and ruled that the provisions u/s 37 of the NDPS Act had been met in this case, granting bail to the accused woman.

Justice Chitkara acknowledged that the petitioner’s husband has a complicated criminal history and that she, as his wife, might be aware of his illegal activities. However, she argued that this is insufficient evidence to bring charges against the petitioner, since she herself has no criminal record.

Further, the High Court ruled that a co-confessional accused’s mother’s testimony alone is not enough to prevent bail for the other accused person in the absence of any other damning evidence or claims.

The Court also voiced worry about the negative consequences of a prison setting on a kid, stating that giving birth in jail might be such a trauma to the youngster that societal hostility would follow, perhaps leaving an eternal mark on the mind if questioned about birth. “A pregnant woman’s mind may not be able to handle the confinement and restraints. She might experience severe psychological distress from giving birth behind bars “according to the Supreme Court Therefore, the High Court granted the Petitioner anticipatory bail, with limitations, and made it clear that the Respondent may always request to have the release revoked after three months if the Petitioner broke any of the conditions.

JUDGEMENT REVIEWED BY – HARILAKSHMI

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