The Bombay High Court has directed the State to assume parental responsibility in relation to such children who are born despite attempts at medical termination of pregnancy as per orders of the High court.
First and foremost, the registered medical practitioner and the hospital/ clinic concerned will have to assume the full responsibility to ensure that such child is offered the best medical treatment available in the circumstances, in order that it develops into a healthy child, said the bench comprising Justice AS Oka and Justice MS Sonak.
The bench observed that a child, born alive, is a person, in whom, the right to life and personal liberty inheres, it must be ensured that, under no circumstances, such a child must be neglected or left to perish, particularly where the pregnant or her family members may not be in a position to or may not be willing to assume responsibility in such matters.
"Therefore, if the child, despite attempts at medical termination of pregnancy, is born alive, then the parents as well as the Doctors owe a duty of care to such child. The best interest of the child must be the central consideration in determining how to treat the child. The extreme vulnerability of such child is itself reason enough to ensure that everything which is reasonably possible and feasible, in the circumstances, will have to be offered to such child, so that it develops into a healthy child."
It also observed that if the parents of such child are unwilling to or genuinely not in a position to care for such child, then, the "parens patriae" doctrine, will oblige the State to assume parental responsibility in relation to such child.
"Even apart from the "parens patriae" doctrine, the provisions of the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015, will apply to such an unfortunate situation. There are detailed provisions under the Juvenile Justice Act to deal with cases of "abandoned child" as defined under section 2(1) or "child in need of care and protection" as defined in section 2(14) of the Juvenile Justice Act. The hospital/clinic authorities, must take necessary measures as prescribed under the Juvenile Justice Act to deal with such unfortunate situations. The best interest of the child, must be the primary consideration in all such matters. According to us, both the parens patriae doctrine as well as provisions of Juvenile Justice Act obliged the State to assume parental responsibility in relation to such children. Therefore, the State, consistent with the provisions of the Juvenile Justice Act will have to protect and take care of such children, should, such need arise."The bench also recorded the submission of the State and its agencies like CWC etc. will, after compliance prescribed procedures, declare such children legally "free for adoption", in case the enquiries establish that such children have no one to care for or are abandoned or surrendered."