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Case Study

Read Ritu's case and decide for yourself.
Ritu is 24 years old and has 5 children. She was married at the age of 17 by her parents and lives with her husband and in-laws.

Day of the crime

Her husband and father-in-law left for work. She asked her mother-in-law to pick up groceries and medicine as she was unwell. Once she was alone, she drowned her drugged children one by one in the well. She was found wailing and beating her chest at the scene of the crime. Some neighbours restrained her and called the police.

Interaction with her lawyer

Ritu was assigned by a lawyer but she is not interested in mounting a defense. She insists that she must be awarded the highest punishment as the ‘devil’ incarnate resides within her and must be killed.

Secondary information

Unable to get any information out of Ritu, her lawyer attempts to meet with her friends and family. Interviews reveal that she was not being treated for any mental illness, there is no information on violent outbursts or tendencies. However, interviews with her friends and family show that she was “a little too religious”. She spent hours on end praying in her room and refused to allow anyone inside when she prayed.

In jail

Ritu keeps to herself and does not talk to the other prisoners. Over the course of the trial, she has opened up to her lawyer and told her that she was convinced her kids were cursed and had to be killed to be reborn as humans. She claims that she killed her children to save them from eternal damnation and was commanded by the devil that resides within her.

Her lawyer thinks that this is a fit case for the insanity claim under s.84 of the IPC, 1860.

© Project 39A at National Law University Delhi
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Forensic Mental Health and Criminal Justice

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