Delhi High Court: A Single Judge Bench of Prathiba M. Singh, J. directed the Government to issue a circular that in a case where minor’s guardian or family approached any Registered Medical Practitioner (RMP) for termination of pregnancy of the minor, then the identity of the minor, guardian, or the family, should not be disclosed in the RMP’s report to the police, if a request to that effect was made by the guardian or the family to the RMP.
The present petition was filed by the petitioner who was the mother of an unmarried minor girl aged fourteen years and at the time of filing of the petition, the girl was pregnant with a gestational period of fifteen weeks and four days. The petition was filed seeking permission of the Court to terminate pregnancy of the minor girl which was stated to be the result of an accidental consensual relationship. This Court believed the conception was a result of a consensual, one-off act and the minor girl’s interest would be best served by terminating the pregnancy. Thus, this Court in its order dated 12-1-2023 permitted the minor daughter of the petitioner to undergo the procedure for medical termination of pregnancy.
Counsel for the petitioner informed the Court that in terms of the earlier order of this Court, the procedure for termination of pregnancy was undertaken. However, there was an urgent and immediate cause of concern that this writ petition raised in respect of the termination of pregnancy in case of the unfortunate event of the pregnant person being a minor girl. It was revealed to this Court that the Registered Medical Practitioners (RMPs) were reluctant to carry out the termination of pregnancy without disclosing the identity of a minor girl and her family and without lodging a police report. This caused a huge predicament for the minor child and her family.
The Court opined that minors and their families might be forced to approach non-registered unqualified medical practitioners, quacks, mid-wives, to terminate the pregnancies because of the fear of disclosure of their identity, which could also result in adverse impact on the physical and mental health of the minor.
Therefore, to avoid risks to pregnant minor girls, the Court directed the Government to issue a circular to the effect that in case of any minor’s guardian or family approaching any RMP for termination of pregnancy, the identity of the minor, guardian, or the family, should not be disclosed in the RMP’s report to the police, if a request to that effect was made by the guardian or the family to the RMP. Further, the police should also ensure that in such cases, the report which was registered did not publicly disclose the identity of the minor and her guardian or the family.
The matter would next be listed on 10-3-2023.
[N v. Principal Secretary Health and Family Welfare Department, 2023 SCC OnLine Del 376, decided on 23-1-2023]
Advocates who appeared in this case :
For the Petitioner: Advocate Amit Mishra
For the Respondents: ASC Hetu Arora Sethi
CGSC Kirtiman Singh
Advocate Siddarth Agarwal
Advocate Waizw Ali Noor
Advocate Kunjala Bhardwaj
Advocate Madhav Bajaj
Advocate Yash Upadhyay
*Judgment authored by: Justice Prathiba M. Singh
*Simranjeet Kaur, Editorial Assistant has reported this brief