Vacancies in consumer courts: SC asks states to be careful or chief secys may be summoned


MUMBAI: The Bombay High Court on Monday permitted a 12-year-old victim of rape and sexual assault to undergo medical termination of her pregnancy, which was a result of this assault, despite the pregnancy being beyond the permissible 20-week limit and the foetus having only minor abnormalities.

A vacation bench of Justices SJ Kathawalla and Abhay Ahuja took note of the mental anguish and trauma the minor girl would have to undergo if forced to carry the pregnancy to full term.

It also cited an April 2019 order passed by another Bombay HC bench, which had held that if a pregnancy posed injury to a woman’s mental health, then forcing her to continue with such pregnancy would be in breach of her fundamental right to life.

It said the 2019 order had “correctly held that in a situation where continuation of pregnancy poses grave injury to the physical and mental health of the mother, the pregnant mother could not be forced to continue with the pregnancy merely because it had extended beyond the ceiling of 20 weeks”.

“The same would be a serious afront to fundamental rights of such mother to privacy, to exercise reproductive choices, and even to her bodily integrity as also dignity,” Justice Kathawalla’s bench quoted from the 2019 order.

The vacation bench was presiding over a plea filed by the victim’s father.

It noted the victim was currently admitted in the state-run JJ hospital in the city, and a panel of doctors there had examined her and concluded that while “only minor anomaly is detected in the foetus of the pregnant minor mother”, she “is anguished with the pregnancy.”

The JJ hospital panel had also told HC that the continuation of the pregnancy was likely to have an adverse psychological impact on the minor.

The HC vacation bench further noted, in the present case, the medical board had also clearly opined that the minor was anguished with the pregnancy and its continuation may lead to complications during labour.

“It is further opined the continuation of such an unwanted pregnancy will have physical and mental stress to minor as well as have a psychological impact,” HC said.

It directed JJ hospital authorities to provide counselling and requisite medical aid to the victim and to perform the MTP procedure.

The bench also directed the Maharashtra government to immediately place the FIR registered in the rape case, the victim’s medical report and other related documents before the District Legal Services Authority (DLSA) to ensure the victim is provided compensation and aid promised under the state’s ‘Manodhairya] scheme.