HC stands by raped minor
Jharkhand High Court today came to the rescue of a 12-year-old rape survivor, whom hospitals in Jamshedpur have refused abortion, ensuring that the government constituted a medical board to examine if termination of pregnancy was a safe possibility for her.
- Published 14.10.17
Ranchi, Oct. 13: Jharkhand High Court today came to the rescue of a 12-year-old rape survivor, whom hospitals in Jamshedpur have refused abortion, ensuring that the government constituted a medical board to examine if termination of pregnancy was a safe possibility for her.
The single bench of Justice Rongon Mukhopadhyay issued the medical board and "proper treatment" directives while hearing a criminal writ petition filed by the minor, a resident of Sidhgora in the steel city, seeking action against MGM Medical College and Hospital in Sakchi and Khasmahal Sadar Hospital.
The state-run hospitals, lawyers said, might have refused abortion in the case owing to lacunae in the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and the Medical Termination of Pregnancy (MTP) Act.
Section 312 of the IPC says "causing miscarriage" to a woman is punishable with up to seven years in jail. The MTP Act, on the other hand says, no pregnancy more than 20 weeks can be terminated without the medical opinion of at least two registered practitioners.
The girl, daughter of daily-wage earners, was raped by a co-tenant in May, according to an FIR lodged by her mother at Sidhgora police station on August 27. She is currently around 24-week pregnant. Her counsel, Ram Subhag Singh, told the court that doctors had even refused her treatment even though she is both malnourished and traumatised.
The high court ensured that its order, issued in the first half, was immediately complied with because "the matter is of grave seriousness involving the life and future of a minor".
Government counsel R.R. Mishra told the court in the second half that a medical team had been constituted and the girl was being examined at MGM hospital. "The report of the medical board (on whether she is medically stable to undergo an abortion) will soon be communicated to the court," Mishra said.
In an exemplary case last month, the Supreme Court allowed a 13-year-old rape victim from Mumbai to receive an abortion at 31 weeks.
The girl had discovered that she was pregnant only after 27 weeks. The apex court took her age into account and sought medical expertise, thereby facilitating termination of her unwanted pregnancy.
Bombay High Court has denied permission to a 16-year-old rape survivor, who is in her 27th week of pregnancy, to undergo an abortion. The court cited a report from doctors about potential risks to her health if her pregnancy was terminated.