14 Dec 2022 2:17 PM GMT
The Kerala High Court on Monday allowed a minor rape victim to terminate her 26-week pregnancy. Justice V.G. Arun said the continuation of the pregnancy could affect the mental health of the 17 year old girl, who suffers from intellectual disability."In the case at hand, the Medical Board after considering all aspects, has opined that the continuation of the pregnancy can seriously affect...
The Kerala High Court on Monday allowed a minor rape victim to terminate her 26-week pregnancy.
Justice V.G. Arun said the continuation of the pregnancy could affect the mental health of the 17 year old girl, who suffers from intellectual disability.
"In the case at hand, the Medical Board after considering all aspects, has opined that the continuation of the pregnancy can seriously affect the mental health of the victim, and she is likely develop depression and psychosis. In view of the Medical Board's opinion, and considering the mental status of the victim, I am inclined to allow the prayer for medical termination of the pregnancy", the Court observed.
The minor was allegedly raped by a neighbour. Her father in the petition said they were not aware about the pregnancy until the girl was recently examined by a gynaecologist.
It was submitted by Advocate G. Vidya on behalf of the petitioner that the child is in utter shock and under extreme physical and mental stress due to the pregnancy. The court was told that no hospital agreed to perform the medical termination without an order from the court, in light of the restriction imposed by the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act, 1971.
The court had earlier directed the Superintendent, Government Medical College, Kannur, to constitute a Medical Board for examining the victim, and render its opinion. The board in its report said continuation of pregnancy can seriously affect the minor girl's mental health.
The Court said a woman's decision to make reproductive choice is recognized as part of her personal liberty under Article 21, subject to reasonable restrictions.
It also referred to the decisions of the Division Bench of the Kerala High Court in ABC v. Union of India (2020), and that of the Supreme Court in X v. Union of India & Ors (2020), where the Courts have permitted medical termination of pregnancy.
Observing that each day's delay will add to the victim's agony, the court allowed the plea and directed the Superintendent of the hospital to take immediate measures for constituting a medical team for conducting the procedure.
The court directed the minor's father to file an appropriate undertaking, authorizing to conduct the surgery at her risk.
"If the baby is alive at birth, the hospital shall ensure that the baby is offered the best medical treatment available, so that it develops into a healthy child," the court said.
It added that in such scenario, if the petitioner does not assume responsibility of the baby, "the State and its agencies shall assume full responsibility and offer medical support and facilities to the child, keeping in mind the best interests of the child, and the provisions of the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015."
Government Pleader Amminikutty K. also appeared in the instant case.
Case Title: X v. State of Kerala & Ors.
Citation: 2022 LiveLaw (Ker) 652
Click Here To Read/Download The Judgment