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Report No. 135

2.24. Pregnant woman: suspension of sentence of imprisonment (proposed section 450G, Cr. P.C.).-

While all necessary steps should be taken to ensure that women in custody are looked after properly, it also appears desirable to think of certain protective measures as regards pregnant women. We are of the view that the convicting court should have a power to suspend the execution of any sentence of imprisonment that might have been passed on a pregnant woman.

At present, the criminal law of the country gives no such discretion to the court; and we regard this as a lacuna in our procedural law. The peculiar needs of a pregnant woman ought to be taken into consideration by the trial court; and the law should contain a provision; vesting in the court a discretion to suspend execution of the sentence of imprisonment (whether it be for life or for a specified term), subject to certain safeguards, where the person sentenced is a pregnant woman.

In brief, our proposal is that at the time of passing a sentence of imprisonment for life or imprisonment for a specified term, the court should have power, if the woman sentenced is pregnant, to direct suspension of execution of sentence, having regard to certain considerations. The suspension would be operative till the pregnancy comes to an end and such period thereafter as the court may specify.

During such period the woman sentenced will be required under a bond to keep peace and be of good behaviour and (if the court so directs) to observe such other conditions as may be specified. We are also making previsions as to details of the procedure to be adopted, for asking or compelling the woman to surrender. The period of suspension of sentence will not result in the reduction of the sentence of imprisonment as imposed by the Court.

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