Bombay High Court allows minor rape victim to terminate her 24-week pregnancy

Mumbai: The Bombay High Court on Monday expressed its concern over the manner in which police authorities deal with cases pertaining to minor mothers, especially those who become pregnant because of rape. The HC has asked the police authorities to ensure they take ‘timely’ decisions so that the minor rape victims can avoid ‘protracted’ litigations for terminating their pregnancy.

A division bench of Justice Naresh Patil and Justice Anuja Prabhudesai made these observations while allowing a 13-year-old rape victim to terminate her more than 24-week long pregnancy. The judges were moved by NGO – Bachpan Bachao Andolan, seeking permission to abort the minor girl’s pregnancy.

The girl – a Kalyan resident, was abducted by a labourer in her vicinity in July 2017. The accused, who is now behind the bars, had taken the girl to Uttar Pradesh and had committed rape on her. This fact was discovered when the Ulhasnagar police investigated the case following a FIR registered by the girl’s father. The girl was traced in a village in UP and was brought back to Mumbai in March this year, i.e. after nearly eight months.

Having brought back to Mumbai, the girl was subjected to medical tests, as prescribed in the POCSO Act, and she was then detected to be pregnant. However, by the time the girl approached the HC through the NGO, her pregnancy had crossed the legal cap of 24-weeks.

The advocate appearing for the NGO apprised the judges of the fact that the police had not given the medical report to the girl’s family at the earliest and also they had not made them aware of the provisions of Medical Termination of Pregnancy (MTP). She also cited the report of the medical board which opined that though the termination of pregnancy would be risky but its continuation would be riskier for the girl.

Irked by this, Justice Patil said, “This is a serious issue. If you (police) would have had informed the parents at the earliest, we believe the girl’s life would not have been endangered like this. Instead, then it would have been possible for the girl to abort the foetus without taking leave of this court.” “In such cases, we believe the police must take timely decisions, this would save the lives of minors. The police must immediately inform the parents of such minors of their pregnancy and if the legal cap (of 24-weeks) is not exceeded, then they must refer the matter to the government hospitals for abortion. The police must on their own make the parents of such minors aware of the provisions of the MTP Act,” Justice Patil observed.
Posting the matter for further hearing the judges directed the government to place on record if it has any guidelines for the police to inform and educate parents of minor victims of the provisions of MTP Act.

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