Breastfeeding is an inalienable right of a lactating mother under the fundamental rights guaranteed by the Constitution, the High Court of Karnataka has held. The single bench of Justice Krishna S Dixit made the observation when a woman Husna Banu moved the court seeking custody of her child which was stolen from a maternity hospital in Bengaluru and sold to a childless woman Anupama Desai from the district headquarters town of Koppal.
The court also observed that the right of the suckling infant for being breastfed should be assimilated with the mother's right. Breastfeeding mother and the suckling child are the concurrent rights protected under right to life guaranteed under the fundamental rights, mentioned in the Indian Constitution, the court noted.
Stressing that such incident should not happen in a civilised society, the bench observed, "It is unfortunate that this pretty child for no fault remained without breastfed, its lactating mother having had no access to it till now.In a civilised society such a things should never happen." The foster mother had urged the court to retain the child as she took care of the toddler for more than a year.
However, the court termed Desai's contention as abhorrent to the very notion of motherhood. "Children are not chattel for being apportioned between their genetic mother and a stranger on the basis of their numerical abundance," Justice Dixit maintained.
The court, however, appreciated the kind gesture of both the women craving for a child and the biological mother's statement that the foster mother can see the child whenever her heart desires. "Such kind gestures coming from two women, hailing from two different religious backgrounds, are marked by their rarity, nowadays; thus, this legal battle for the custody of the pretty child is drawn to a close with a happy note, once for all," the court said.