Question: Explain legal status of unborn child.


Note: this post is a part of our important question answer series on Jurisprudence. You can read other questions by clicking here.



All the beings, who are capable of enjoyment of rights and performing duties, can be called persons. The term person can be further classified into:

1.       Natural person, and

2.       Legal person.


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Unborn, in layman’s terms, means who is not yet born. Legally speaking, under IPC, there are three stages of an unborn child:

1.       an unborn child simpliciter,

2.       where the woman is quick with child, and

3.       the unborn child capable of being born alive.


Related maxims

1.                   An infant ventre sa mere: a child in its mother’s womb.

2.                   Nascitures Pro Ham Nato Habetur: One who is to be born is deemed to have been born.


Provisions dealing with unborn child under various Laws

Under Criminal Laws

1.                   IPC: Section 312 to 316 of the Indian Penal Code states that anyone who prevents a child from being born alive, or for causing the death of a quick unborn child will be punished depending on the case type.

The offences mentioned under these sections are of non-bailable, cognizable and non-compoundable in nature, and stringent punishments for the same are provided.

2.                   CRPC: Section 416 of the code provides for the postponement or of an execution of a pregnant woman, or alternatively, if the high court deems fit, the execution can be reduced to life imprisonment.


Under Civil Laws

1.       Indian succession act: As per section 114, a property interest can be created in the name of the unborn child. However, it can only be vested after the child is born alive.

2.       Hindu succession act: Section 20 states that As per Mitakshara Law, in a Hindu Undivided Family, an unborn child will have an interest in coparcenary property.

3.       Transfer of Property Act: Section 13 provides that property can be transferred for the benefit of the unborn child, but this should be done via a trust.


Therefore, it can be safely concluded that in Indian legal system, an unborn child is considered as capable of enjoyment of rights, hence, be considered as a legal person and his rights are protected under various legislations.


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