In a bizarre judgement, the Rajasthan High Court acquitted a woman accused of murdering a child. The reason you may ask? She was suffering from ‘insanity triggered from Premenstrual Stress Syndrome’ or PMS for the uninitiated.
The accused, Chandra, had pushed three kids into a well. Although two kids were saved because of swift action, one of them unfortunately drowned.
According to a copy of the judgement acquired by Livelaw, the trial court had earlier convicted the woman under sections 302, 307, and 374 of the Indian Penal Code and was ordered to undergo life imprisonment under section 302 with a fine of Rs 100 and four years of rigorous imprisonment under section 307 with a fine of Rs 400.
However, it was pleaded before the trial court that the woman was suffering from a ‘mental disease’ known as Premenstrual Stress Syndrome which made her dangerously aggressive some days prior to the beginning of her menstrual cycle.
A bench comprising of Justice Mohammad Rafiq and Justice Goverdhan Bardhar took note of this fact after three doctors deposed in the case. The bench also examined their statement after reading various books on the disease.
One of the doctors who had treated the accused said that ‘some women do not remain normal’ in the days preceding their cycle. He further claimed that some women become aggressive, violent and even commit suicide.
Another doctor claimed that the accused had such severe symptoms of PMS that had to induce her with tranquilizers.
The bench quoted an article on PMS published in the Duke Law Journal which said, “Premenstrual Stress Syndrome (PMS syndrome) is a disorder afflicting many women. The symptoms of PMS syndrome include excessive thirst and appetite, bloating, headaches, anxiety, depression, irritability, and general lethargy. Diagnosis depends on the timing of the symptoms rather than on their type, number, or severity; not all patients experience all possible symptoms. The symptoms develop and increase in intensity from seven to fourteen days prior to the onset of menses and disappear rapidly thereafter. PMS syndrome can range in severity from mild to incapacitating, in both a physical and psychological sense.”
While acquitting the accused of all charges, the bench said that though the laws in India were not developed enough on PMS being set as the defense of insanity, however, the accused had a right to defend herself and her actions because the offence she committed was an involuntary act on her part.