Mumbai: The Bombay High Court on Monday issued a notice to the Centre through the Attorney General of India on a petition filed by an unmarried woman challenging the Sept 2021 amendment to the Medical Termination of Pregnancy (MTP) Act that raised the termination term from 20 to 24 weeks and amended the rules giving power to the Centre to create categories of women eligible for it.
A division bench of Justices Gautam Patel and SG Dige issued the notice during an in-camera hearing in the petition by the unmarried woman, who was within 24 weeks pregnancy but was refused MTP by Wadia Hospital citing amendment to the Act that excludes single or unmarried women.
The woman filed the petition through advocate Aditi Saxena and then approached the JJ Group of Hospitals, which too refused MTP.
During the hearing last week, the HC orally asked the State Government to inform the doctors at the JJ Hospital to follow the Supreme Court’s recent judgment that allows an unmarried woman to undergo MTP. On Monday, Ms Saxena informed the HC that the woman underwent MTP two days ago. Government pleader Poornima Kantharia said the patient will be discharged from the hospital in a day or two.
However, Ms Saxena pointed out that the plea raises a substantial challenge to amended law that include categories. She said subsequent jurisprudence has developed on privacy and reproductive autonomy and that in its light there ought not to be a pre-condition.
Justice Patel said that they were in favour of live streaming of the court proceedings and not in-camera proceedings in the case as “it is about the law” and a “matter of great public importance”. The bench sought opinions from Ms Kantharia and Ms Saxena with regard to live streaming and said that if either one of them says no for it, it would not question it. The court will decide on Feb 15 a date for the final hearing.
In another petition, the HC on Monday allowed MTP of a 27-week pregnancy where the foetus was detected with a rare congenital disease, Binder syndrome, affecting the face of the foetus. The direction was passed by the HC on the plea filed by the woman through her advocate Ashley Cusher. The condition results in an undergrown central face and may affect elements of the nose and upper jaw. The HC has directed the Satara Civil Hospital to carry out the procedure within 72 hours.
(If you have a story in and around Mumbai, you have our ears, be a citizen journalist and send us your story here. )