Bombay High Court | Right to reproductive choice: Minor sexual assault victim lodged in observation home for murder allowed to terminate pregnancy

Bombay High Court

Bombay High Court: A.S. Chandurkar and Urmila Joshi-Phalke, JJ. allowed a writ petition which was filed by a minor victim of sexual abuse requesting to terminate her pregnancy.

The petitioner contended that she is in custody of Observation Home, Amravati as she had committed offence under Section 302 of the Penal Code, 1860. A crime was also registered as petitioner was not traceable on the basis of report lodged by her mother under Section 363 of the IPC. During the investigation it was revealed to the Investigating Officer that petitioner is pregnant and, therefore, offence was registered under Section 376 read with Section 4 of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012. She is also victim of sexual assault and, therefore, another crime was registered on the basis of report lodged by her mother.

It was further contended that she is from economically weak section and, therefore, she is unable to up-bring the child. Due to said incident she had suffered and is suffering because of sexual abuse. She has undergone the agony and she will go through the same in future also. She sought permission from the Court to direct respondent 2 to terminate her pregnancy which is of 12 weeks.

The Court noted that in the present case the petitioner is unmarried and she is not only a victim of sexual abuse but also lodged in a Observation Home. The Court opined that she has already undergone the trauma due to the sexual assault on her and she is also suffering mentally as she is also charged for the offence punishable under Section 302 of the IPC. The Court agreed that she cannot be forced to give birth to a child. The Supreme Court has also observed several times that it is the right of woman to have reproductive choice. She has a choice to give birth to the child or not.

The Medical Board also opined that the pregnancy could be terminated if petitioner is a minor girl. She is subjected for sexual assault. It is difficult for her to carry said pregnancy under above circumstances.

The Court was of the view that declining such permission to the petitioner would be tantamount to compelling her to continue with her pregnancy which in the circumstances will not only be a burden on her, but it would also cause grave injury to her mental health. The petition was allowed with several directions.

[A v. State of Maharashtra, 2022 SCC OnLine Bom 1361, decided on 27-06-2022]

Advocates who appeared in this case :

Ms S.H. Bhatia, Advocate, for the Petitioner;

Ms N.P. Mehta, Asstt. Government Pleader, for the Respondent/State.

*Suchita Shukla, Editorial Assistant has reported this brief.

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