The Supreme Court on Wednesday delivered a split verdict in a case concerning the medical termination of pregnancy of a married woman who was in 26th week of pregnancy. The Bench hearing the case - that of Justices Hima Kohli and BV Nagarathna - was the apex court's fourth-ever all-woman bench.
Bench stood divided
While Justice Hima Kohli wondered which court will say "stop the heartbeat of a foetus" and made it clear she was not inclined to permit the 27-yearold woman to terminate her pregnancy, Justice B V Nagarathna said the court should respect the decision of the woman who has remained determined to abort it.
Justice Nagarathna reasoned that this is not a question where the viability of the foetus has to be considered, but the interest and wishes of the petitioner who has reiterated her mental condition and ailments. The woman appeared virtually before the court and informed the court she wanted to abort. As the two judges disagreed, the matter will go to a larger Bench.
Case will be referred to larger bench
"My judicial conscience does not allow me to let it (termination) continue, whereas my sister judge says it should be. We will refer it to a larger bench," Justice Kohli said. On Tuesday, the Supreme Court had placed on hold its own order allowing the termination of pregnancy after the government submitted a medical report indicating the foetus is "viable", i.e., it shows signs of life and has a strong possibility of survival.
The woman in question had pleaded before the court that she already has two children and she is mentally and physically not fit to take care of another child. The petitioner further said that she is suffering from depression and wants to terminate her pregnancy.