Despite bail, woman who tried to sell baby still behind bars

Even as a young mother of three, arrested last year for trying to sell her 45-day-old son out of economic desperation, languishes in Byculla jail in spite of a bail order, legal experts have slammed the delay in her release as violation of Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC).

Amruta Salvi alias Aafrin Shaikh (20) was granted bail two months ago. She, however, was unable to furnish a personal surety of Rs 20,000 mandated by the order.

Shaikh, who married outside her religion when she was 14, was allegedly ostracised by her family. When her husband, a small-time wireman and alleged alcoholic, threw her out with the kids the infant and others aged five and one she had no means to fend for herself. She was allegedly promised Rs 1.5 lakh for her by Reshma Khan (34) and Lalita Paswan (22), who have also been arrested.

Criminal lawyer Ashish Chavan points to a 2005 amendment to Section 436 of CrPC, which lays down that if a person is unable to provide surety within a week, the court should presume that he or she is indigent (poor) and the court can set such a person free on the condition that he or she signs a bond.

Chavan told Newsline, "The purpose behind the amendment was to prevent people from languishing in jails despite securing bail. This has happened in several cases, especially where the accused do not have relatives or anyone else who can furnish security. However, there seems to be lack of awareness about the section."

Senior lawyer Ashok Mundargi, who had submitted a report on the state of prisons in Maharashtra to Bombay High Court, said such cases were rare.

National Commission for Women (NCW) member Nirmala Samant Prabhavalkar said she would meet the woman in jail and her children, who are in a shelter home in Mankhurd, next week. "The administration of the shelter home has said they can take care of the woman as well as the children if she is set free," she said.

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