Delhi High Court: In a case seeking grant of medical termination of pregnancy by a 16-year-old rape victim (‘petitioner’), Yashwant Varma J., granted termination of 28+ weeks foetus, after going through a report prepared by the Medical Board constituted by AIIMS, which recommended the same. The Court, however, directed the foetus to be preserved by AIIMS for DNA testing for the purpose of criminal case pending against the perpetrator.
The petitioner, a 16-year-old victim of rape approached the Court for the medical termination of her pregnancy. The foetus is stated to be beyond 28 weeks old. The report by the Medical Board constituted by AIIMS, recommended medical termination of her pregnancy.
As the petitioner has crossed the 24 week of pregnancy threshold as laid down under the provisions of the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act, 1971, termination would be impermissible. Thus, the petitioner filed the instant petition.
The Court relied on X v. Government of NCT of Delhi in WP (C) No. 10638 of 2022 decided on 19-07-2022 wherein it was held that if the petitioner was forced to go through with the pregnancy despite the same having been caused on account of the incident of sexual assault, it would permanently scar her psyche and cause grave and irreparable injury to her mental health. The Court cannot visualize a more egregious invasion of her right to life as guaranteed by Article 21 of the Constitution.
The Court thus directed the petitioner to appear before Medical Board along with her brother as well as a responsible official to be deputed by the Child Welfare Committee [CWC] and undertake the requisite procedure for the medical termination of the pregnancy of the petitioner.
The Court further directed AIIMS to preserve the terminal foetus for DNA testing which would be required for the purposes of the criminal case which is pending.
[R v. Government of NCT of Delhi, 2022 SCC OnLine Del 2628, decided on 26-08-2022]
Advocates who appeared in this case :
For petitioner- Ms. Hetu Arora Sethi, Mr. Rahul Jain, Ms. Kavita Nailwal and Mr. Arjun Basra, Advocates
For Respondent- Mr. Mehak Nakra, ASC(C), GNCTD for R-1.
Mr. Satya Ranjan Swain and Mr. Tanveer Oberoi, Advs. for AIIMS and Inspector Dinesh Kumar, P.S. New Friends Colony
*Arunima Bose, Editorial Assistant has put this report together.