Breastfeeding is 'inalienable constitutional right' of a mother: Karnataka HC

A high court bench gave the order on September 29 while hearing a case of habeas corpus petition filed by a woman from Bengaluru, whose baby was stolen from the hospital last year.
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The Karnataka High Court has observed that breastfeeding is an inalienable right of a mother and the Constitution under Article 21 guarantees this fundamental right. The right of the infant needs to be assimilated with that of its mother, the court has underlined. The high court bench headed by Justice Krishna S Dixit gave the order on Wednesday, September 29 while hearing a case of habeas corpus petition filed by a woman from Bengaluru, whose baby was stolen from the hospital last year.

The mother pleaded with the court that her baby should be handed over to her from the couple who are looking after the baby presently. A psychiatrist allegedly had stolen the newborn and given it away to the couple from Koppal in May 2020. The newborn child was allegedly stolen from a maternity home in Bengaluru. The accused gave it to a couple from Koppal for money claiming that the child was born out of surrogacy. However, the police cracked the case and arrested the accused psychiatrist and tracked the child to Koppal.

The bench has directed the authorities to hand over the baby from the couple to the biological mother. The bench observed that it is unfortunate that newborn babies remained without being breastfed, "in a civilized society such things should not occur. It is to be recognized that breastfeeding is the inseparable right of a mother", the bench said.

The counsel appearing for the foster mother contended that the biological mother already has two kids whereas the foster mother had none and she has nursed the baby with all the love and affection.

However, the court rejected the demand of the counsel that the baby should be handed over to the custody of the foster mother. The bench has underlined that the court cannot recognize the rights of strangers as opposed to biological parents as far as an infant is concerned.

The court also set aside the comparison of the "Devaki Mata (the mother of Lord Krishna) and Yashoda Mata (Lord Krishna's foster mother). "Children are not chattel. The distributive justice intends to bridge the gap does not apply in this case," the court underlined as it made it clear that the right to breastfeed one's child can neither be taken away from or given away by the possessor.

Convinced of the biological mother's rights, the foster mother from Koppal has handed over the baby to her. The biological mother has agreed to the visit by the foster mother whenever she desires.

Justice Dixit appreciating the kind gestures from both mothers belonging to different religions said rarely he has come across such incidents. The court also observed that there will be no action against the foster parents in connection with the kidnapping of the child.

The court disposed of the petitions filed by both biological mother and foster mother.

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