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‘Father’s neglect towards unborn child is domestic violence’

New Delhi: Any neglect or failure on the part of father of a yet to be born child is domestic violence and he cannot shirk his responsiblity to support the baby, a Delhi court on Tuesday said.

The court’s direction came on an appeal filed by a working mother against the magistrate court’s order which had denied her the interim maintenance from her husband for the unborn baby on the ground that foetus is not covered within the definition of a child.

“Though the mother is also earning and having a good income, the same does not entitle the husband to shirk his responsibility when he is also liable to support his child and for any failure and neglect by the father qua the child yet to be born, is certainly domestic violence within contemplation of this special enactment and the object it strives to achieve,” Additional Sessions Judge (ASJ) Sudesh Kumar said.

Setting aside the trial court’s order, the judge said he is not in consonance with Metropolitan Magistrate (MM) that domestic violence committed on a pregnant lady will not have any effect on her unborn child.

“…The order is hereby set aside and I hereby hold that an unborn child does come within the definition of a child and the complainant seeking maintenance for her unborn child in the form of her upkeep, welfare and an extra care required during the pregnancy was entitled to the same,” it said.

It said that a woman during pregnancy needs extra care and attention and a good diet and she should be free from stress.

“For the proper care of the unborn child, both parents should ensure a stress free environment and all requirements towards the unborn child should be taken care by both of them. If the father does not partake in the care, he is denying and rejecting his obligation towards his own child,” it said.

The court remanded the matter back to the magistrate to determine the extent of maintenance qua the unborn child as per law.

According to appeal filed by the woman, they got married in 2013 and she alleged that within one month of the marriage, her husband started harassing her physically and abused her parents and sister.

The husband, however, denied all the allegations against him in the complaint.