Noting that the slogan 'Beti Bachao and Beti Padao' (save and educate girl child) alone cannot save girl child, a Delhi court has sentenced the father and grandmother of a deceased toddler, who was found severely malnourished, to six months jail term for failing to take proper care of her. The court said that both the convicts were in charge of the two-year-old girl, who was underweight with multiple scab injuries over her body and weighed just five kg at the time of her death.
In February 2014, the child, who was in the custody of her father and grandmother for the past two months following a matrimonial dispute, suddenly fell unconscious and died. Her post mortem report had stated that she was chronically malnourished and reduced from normal weight in two months.
Additional Sessions Judge Gurdeep Singh Saini said, "It is necessary to observe that the neglect of girl child continues to be pronounced. Not only the parents but society as a whole has failed to protect them. In this case, even a neighbour came forward to shamelessly depose that the child was given due love and care by the convicts. Only the slogan Beti Bachao and Beti Padao cannot save the girl child."
The court convicted both the father and the grandmother for the offence under Section 23 (cruelty to juvenile) of the Juvenile Justice (JJ) Act.
"The child was within custody of accused Usha and Deepak Panchal, who are grandmother and father of the child respectively, since last two months before her death.
"They had not taken due care of the child and neglected a girl child and not even once taken her to a doctor,” it said in its order. The court further said the two-year-old's mother was guilty of not taking proper care of her daughter, but she is absolved of any changes since the police have not conducted the investigation properly.
"It is unfortunate that the female child was neglected not only my father and grandmother but also by her own mother. The love to the child by mother can be seen that even after the child has died, mother did not come forward to take her custody for last rites and even she did not attend the last rites ceremony of her own child," it remarked. The court did not award any compensation to the child's mother thought she was entitled to it.
"As regards compensation, the girl child is no more in the world. No compensation is awarded to mother, who is entitled to receive compensation, as she is herself found guilty for not taking due care of the child. Since police have not conducted the investigation properly, she is absolved," it said.
According to the prosecution, the child's mother Rajni had filed a case against Panchal in 2013 under section 498A of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) for allegedly torturing her, in which they had later reached a settlement in court but started living separately.
Panchal got the custody of their daughter in December 2013. On February 19, 2014, their daughter fell unconscious suddenly and was rushed to the hospital by her grandmother where she was declared brought dead, the complaint said. Following this, Rajni lodged an FIR against her husband and mother-in-law for the alleged offences of murder and criminal conspiracy under the IPC and the JJ Act.
During the trial, the father and the grandmother had claimed innocence and said that they used to take proper care of the child. The court acquitted both the convicts of the charges of murder and criminal conspiracy as the prosecution failed to prove the case beyond a reasonable doubt. It said in its order that the doctor, who conducted the girl child's post mortem, had stated that the normal weight of a two-year-old girl was about 12 kgs and height about 85 cm.
"The doctor stated that the malnutrition is severe and of chronic in nature as the height is also less and it is not possible to get reduced from normal weight in mere two months (under normal circumstances)," the court noted.