8 Nov 2022 1:02 PM GMT
The Madhya Pradesh High Court sentenced 3 persons (Father, Daughter, and Son trio) to six months in jail after finding them guilty, in a contempt case, of obtaining an order for termination of pregnancy on the false pretext that the Prosecutrix was raped.The Court, in its order, noted that the fact was that the Prosecutrix got conceived from his cousin brother, however, this fact was...
The Madhya Pradesh High Court sentenced 3 persons (Father, Daughter, and Son trio) to six months in jail after finding them guilty, in a contempt case, of obtaining an order for termination of pregnancy on the false pretext that the Prosecutrix was raped.
The Court, in its order, noted that the fact was that the Prosecutrix got conceived from his cousin brother, however, this fact was conveniently suppressed by the father and daughter.
"The innovative method adopted by the prosecutrix and her father to kill an unborn baby is against the very purpose of the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act, 1971 and the same cannot be taken in a light manner," the bench of Justice G. S. Ahluwalia said in its Novemner 2 order.
The Court also refused to extend any symapthy to them as it noted that they had innovated a very unique idea of getting an unborn baby killed by suppressing the identity of the biological father of the fetus.
The background of the case
Essentially, on October 27, the bench of Justice G.S. Ahluwalia had held Father-Daughter guilty on two counts of contempt and lamented at the "sorry state of affairs" as the Court was misused to illegally obtain an order for abortion. The son was held guilty on one count.
Facts of the case were that the father of the Prosecutrix had earlier approached the Court praying that her minor daughter be allowed to terminate her pregnancy as she was a victim of rape. The Court eventually allowed the petition and accordingly, the Prosecutrix underwent the procedure of abortion.
Later, the accused in the case moved a bail application before the Court on the ground that the Prosecutrix and her father had turned hostile before the trial court. In fact, the prosecutrix and her brother had not even appeared before the Trial Court in inspite of clear direction by the Court and thus, on this count also, they were held guilty of committing contempt for flouting the order dated 5.5.2022
Earlier, on February 2022, while dismissing the bail application (as withdrawn), the Court noted that considering their testimonies before the Court, the Prosecutrix and her father obtained the order of abortion by making "incorrect averments", because of which, "one unborn baby was killed".
Thus, by exercising its power under Article 215 of the Constitution of India, the Court initiated suo moto contempt proceedings against them. Consequently, on October 27, holding them guilty in the contempt case, the Court remarked thus:
"This case shows a very sorry state of affairs, where some people in order to get rid of unwarranted pregnancy due to voluntary relationship with a close relative, have misused the lawful authority of this Court, by adopting a very innovative method. It is a very high time to put a check on this type of tendency, because the purpose of Medical termination of Pregnancy Act, 1971 is to provide for the termination of certain pregnancies by registered medical practitioners and for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto. Only specific pregnancies are to be permitted to be ended by licensed medical professionals. The primary objectives of the Act are also to reduce the death rate of women from unsafe and illegal abortions and to optimize the maternal health of Indian women. Only after this legislation, women are entitled to have safe abortions, but only under specific circumstances. However, the lawful authority of High Court cannot be permitted to be misused to terminate the unwarranted pregnancy by hiding the identity of the biological father of the child."
First Count of Contempt
Upon examining the submissions of parties and the material on record, including the medical reports and the testimonies, the Court discovered that the Prosecutrix and her father withheld substantial facts. The Court noted that the DNA report reflected that the biological father of the foetus was one cousin of the Prosecutrix and not the main accused. Perusing the testimonies of other witnesses, the Court observed that the Prosecutrix had a consensual relationship with her cousin and that she and her father tried to hide it by not filing a case against him.
The Prosecutrix could not have undergone the medical procedure without the permission of the Court since she was a minor. Hence, it was the father who had to file the petition. Although, being cognizant of the said fact, the Court opined that the Prosecutrix could not be absolved. The Court observed that she might have not filed the petition but took advantage of the order to "kill the unborn baby" by misusing the authority of the Court, which otherwise would have been an offence.
The Court rejected the defence taken by the father of the Prosecutrix that he had turned hostile before the trial court to save the marriage of the Prosecutrix. Scrutinising the police report, the Court noted that people within the known circle of the Prosecutrix were well aware of the fact the she had eloped with someone and had gotten pregnant. Furthermore, nothing was brought on record to prove that the Prosecutrix was indeed married. The Court, thus, concluded that the father was playing the "emotional card", which was nothing but an "after thought with a solitary intention to paint himself as a helpless father."
Holding that they had suppressed material facts, the Court directed the police to register a case against the father and daughter-
Further, the prosecutrix deliberately suppressed her physical relationship with BY, who is her cousin brother. As per DNA test report, BY is the biological father of the fetus. Thus, the prosecutrix and her father were suppressing entire facts right from the very beginning. Thus, this Court is of the considered opinion, that W.P. No. 5723/2021 was filed by suppressing correct facts with a solitary intention to avoid criminal liability of killing an unborn baby. Therefore, the prosecutrix, her father and others are liable for committing offence under Section 201,315,316 of IPC also. Therefore, the Superintendent of Police, Datia is directed to investigate crime no. 373/2022 registered at Police Station Civil Lines, Datia from that angle also.
The Court went on to hold them guilty of contempt for misusing its lawful authority-
Thus, the conduct of the contemnors namely the prosecutrix and her father has shaken the very purpose of Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act, 1971 and this has great impact on the justice delivery system and has also lowered down the dignity of the Court. If the prosecutrix and her father are allowed to go scot free, then it would encourage others also to indulge in such type of activities. Therefore, the prosecutrix "X" and her father "A" are held guilty of committing Contempt of Court.
Second Count of Contempt
The Court also ventured into determining as to whether the Prosecutrix and her father were guilty on the second count of contempt for their irregular appearances and changing stances during the contempt proceedings.
Considering the testimony of the father, the Court observed that he had flip-flopped on several occasions. He asserted that he had turned hostile during the trial as he was advised to do so by his local counsel, in order to save the marriage of the Prosecutrix. He then claimed that he had never filed the petition for medical termination of pregnancy of the Prosecutrix. However, the Court noted that he could not answer as to how he got his hands on the certified copy of the order in the said petition and how did the Prosecutrix appear before the medical board and thereafter, for abortion. The Court also took note of the fact that despite issuing summons, the Prosecutrix as well as her brother did not show up for the contempt proceedings. Accordingly, the Court concluded that it was a clear case of "gross contempt of court"-
In the present case, the prosecutrix "X", her father "A" and her brother "B" have changed their version from time to time with an oblique motive. Further, they did not hesitate in alleging against the Trial Court as well as the Local Counsels. …Accordingly, the father of the prosecutrix "A" is held guilty of committing second Contempt of this Court, for regularly changing his version and the prosecutrix "X" and her brother "B" are held guilty of committing of second Contempt of Court by not appearing before the Trial Court inspite of clear direction by order dated 5-5-2022. Accordingly, they are held guilty of committing Contempt of Court by flouting order dated 5-5-2022 and by changing their version with an oblique motive.
With the aforesaid observations, the Prosecutrix and her father were held guilty on two counts of contempt of court whereas the brother of the Prosecutrix was held guilty on single count of contempt.
Case Title: SUO MOTO IN THE MATTER OF THE STATE OF M.P. versus FATHER OF PROSECUTRIX "A"
Case Citation: 2022 LiveLaw (MP) 239
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