The Bombay High Court has refused to allow a mentally challenged rape survivor to terminate her 35-week (8.5 months) pregnancy after a board of medical experts opined it was a high risk to maternal health.
A division bench of Justices SV Gangapurwala and Arif Saleh Doctor refused to grant permission for medical termination of pregnancy (MTP) observing: “The Expert Committee has not recommended termination of pregnancy due to advanced gestational age. This Court would be guided by the report of the Expert Committee.”
However, as the pregnancy is a result of rape, the HC has said that if the child is born alive, the State should take care of the child in accordance with guidelines under a 2019 judgement on MTP.
Besides, the HC has directed that the investigating officer has been asked to remain present at the time of delivery so that “DNA samples can be collected soon after the delivery and be used during the trial”.
The HC was hearing a petition filed by the woman last month, seeking medical termination of her pregnancy.
Her advocate Yogesh Birajdar argued that she was a rape victim and owing to her medical condition the family learned of the pregnancy at a much later stage. He also said that an FIR has been registered at the Indapur police station in Pune under relevant sections of the Indian Penal Code.
The HC has asked the expert committee at Sassoon General Hospital, Pune, to examine the victim and submit a report.
The report stated that as per the psychiatry evaluation, “the patient has a moderate intellectual disability”. The experts did not recommend MTP saying: “Termination of pregnancy at this advanced gestational age may be considered high risk to maternal health including the need of operative interventions. The foetus is very much salvageable due to the absence of gross foetal anomalies as per sonography.”
The HC has asked the petitioner’s guardian to intimate the investigating officer about the place where the delivery is to take place and the officer shall remain present so that necessary steps can be undertaken for DNA text, tissue culture and other tests required to facilitate the trial.
The HC has kept the petition for further hearing on August 17.