Nepal | March 29, 2020

Former lawmaker Gayatri Shah, husband arrested

Accused of abandoning baby with Down syndrome

Himalayan News Service

Kathmandu, May 5

Police today arrested former lawmaker Gayatri Shah and her husband Rajesh Mahato from Bhaisepati in Lalitpur on the charge of abandoning their newborn baby in a hospital.

Nepal Mediciti Hospital on April 4 had filed an FIR at Metropolitan Police Range, Lalitpur, against Shah and Mahato after they refused to take responsibility of their baby born with Down syndrome on March 12 at the hospital.

Spokesperson for Metropolitan Police Range, Lalitpur, Deputy Superintendent of Police Narayan Prasad Chimauriya said they arrested the accused as per the order of Lalitpur District Court issued today.

The couple came to know that the newborn had Down syndrome a few days after his birth and started staging protest in the hospital.

They accused doctors of not properly checking Gayatri when she was pregnant.

They alleged that doctors lied to them saying the foetus was ‘completely normal’.

They demanded that the hospital bear all expenses of raising the child.

Organising a press meet one month ago, Rajesh Mahato had claimed that they had asked the doctor involved in Gayatri’s checkup whether the foetus was normal or not. Mahato and his wife had stressed on knowing the condition of the foetus since she had a miscarriage earlier.

Mahato claimed in last month’s press conference that doctors assured them that the baby was completely healthy. “However, the newborn baby looked abnormal. Even then the hospital lied to us that the baby was normal and his deformed limbs could be easily treated,” added Mahato.

Nepal Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists issued a press statement on April 16, stating that it was not possible to exactly identify the health condition of a foetus in Nepal.

The statement reads, “Studying all the evidence available, it cannot be said that the doctor involved in regular check-up of the mother had made any error during the check-ups.”

Nepal’s Criminal Code Act prohibits parents or guardians from abandoning or refusing to take care of a child who requires to be taken care of or raised by them. According to Section 184 of the act, anyone who commits such an offence shall be liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding three years and a fine of up to Rs 30,000, depending upon the gravity of the case.

A version of this article appears in print on May 06, 2019 of The Himalayan Times.

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