Case BriefsHigh Courts

Bombay High Court: S.C. Gupte, J., allowed medical termination of 24 weeks pregnancy of 16 year old girl victim of rape & sexual abuse.

Petitioner had sought for medical termination of 23 weeks pregnancy of his daughter who is 16 years old and is a victim of rape and sexual abuse.

In respect of the offence of rape and sexual abuse, an FIR has been registered by the Petitioner with Paud Police Station, Pune.

Petitioner’s case proceeds on the footing that his daughter, being of a tender age of 16 years, is likely to suffer mental and physical trauma due to unwanted and dangerous pregnancy.

So also, it is submitted that continuation of pregnancy at this tender age of 16 years is likely to leave a maternal mortality and in the premises, permission of this court is sought for medical termination of pregnancy.

Court referred the case on 5th May, 2020 to a medical committee. Medical Board recommended termination of pregnancy in view of her history and teenage pregnancy carrying higher mental and physical morbidity and mortality.

Thus, Bench held that considering that despite being aware of the dangers of continuation of pregnancy as well as its termination, Petitioner and his daughter having expressed a keen desire before the Board to terminate the pregnancy and considering the specific opinion of the Medical Board, it is imperative to permit the medical termination of pregnancy.

Court also stated that in view of the same being a result of rape and sexual abuse, appropriate directions for preservation of tissue and blood sample of the fetus for carrying out requisite medical tests including DNA finger printing /mapping would have to be passed.

Bench further observed that, in case the child born is alive and the Petitioner and his daughter are not willing to or not in a position to take responsibility of such child, the State and its agencies will have to assume full responsibility for such child.[Pramod A. Solanke v. Dean of B.J. Govt. Medical College & Sasoon Hospital,  2020 SCC OnLine Bom 639 , decided on 08-05-2020]

Case BriefsForeign Courts

Court of Appeal of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka: A Division Bench of K. K. Wickremasinghe and K. Priyantha Fernando, JJ., allowed an appeal which was filed to set aside the judgment of High Court.

The accused-appellant was indicted in the High Court for committing grave sexual abuse in an offence punishable under Section 365B(2)(b) of the Penal Code, and after pleading not guilty he stood for trial and case was transferred to the High Court. The high court convicted the appellant for the charge and imposed four years of rigorous imprisonment and a fine of Rs 25,000. Being aggrieved by the said conviction and the sentence the appellant preferred this appeal. As per the prosecutrix she lived with her parents and her grandmother and one day when she came back from school she went to her grandmother’s house for having lunch which was 25-30 feet away from her house and while returning from there the accused invited her to his house, promising to give biscuits. After taking her inside he took her to the kitchen, where the appellant sat down on a chair put the small child who was in his hands on the floor and then he took the prosecutrix on to his lap and removed her skirt and the underpants, and placed his penis between her thighs and sexually abused her. The prosecutrix had run back to her grandmother’s house and informed the incident to her grandmother after which her grandmother yelled at the accused and then washed off the prosecutrix legs with water and white foamy liquid, thereafter a complaint was lodged by them against the accused.

The counsel for the appellant Anil Silva and AAL Isuru Jayawardhena contended that there was a belated complaint in the instant case, the High Court Judge failed to consider whether there was a reason for Mary Theresa to fabricate a case against the appellant and that the High Court Judge had misdirected himself as regards to the burden of proof. There were a number of contradictions in the statements given by the side of the prosecution.

The Court while allowing the appeal held that Court should not act on the sole testimony of a prosecutrix if it appears to be unreliable and inconsistent and as the prosecutrix was only 09 years old at the time of the incident and therefore, it is natural that there could be mistakes made by her in evidence. [Rathnayake Mudiyanselage Gnanasena Rathnayake v. Attorney General, C.A. Case No: CA-HCC-0070 of 2015, decided on 03-12-2019]

Legislation UpdatesNotifications

The National Human Rights Commission, NHRC has taken suo motu cognizance of a media report that 15 minor girls have been rescued from a Shelter Home in Tiruvannamalai district of Tamil Nadu following complaints of sexual abuse against the In-Charge of the Home. The In-Charge of the Shelter Home has been arrested under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act. The rescued girls have been shifted to a government facility and further investigation in the case is underway.

The Commission has observed that the contents of the news report, if true, amount to violation of human rights of the victim minor girls. Accordingly, it has issued notices to the Chief Secretary and the Director General of Police, Tamil Nadu calling for a detailed report in the matter, within four weeks including action taken against the guilty and steps taken for relief, rehabilitation and counseling of the victims.

It has also observed that this is not the single incident of its kind which has come to the notice of the Commission. In the recent past the Commission has come across several incidents of such nature, occurred in various parts of the country, where the girl inmates have been sexually abused in custody either by staff or the persons who run the Shelter Homes. The incidents of sexual abuse of innocent minor girls at the hands of their custodian, are shameful and also call for review of the monitoring mechanism by the state authorities. The police and the social welfare departments of the states have to come together to ensure strict compliance of the procedure laid down under law with regard to running Shelter Homes, especially for the women.

According to the media report, carried on the 30th January, 2019, the District Collector, reportedly visited the Home and sealed the premises. The issue came to light as some of the inmates informed the authorities about alleged sexual abuse by the accused, during a safety campaign. Reportedly, the victims have alleged in writings that the In-Charge of the Home, made them watch pornographic content before abusing them.

[Press Release dt.: 01-02-2019]

NHRC

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: The Bench comprising of Madan B. Lokur, Deepak Gupta and KM Joseph, JJ., in its order regarding the horrific chain of events that transpired in the shelter home in State of Bihar, had issued a few directions in its earlier order and has again expressed deep concern in this regard on hearing out the submissions of the learned Amicus Curiae.

In the present order, the Supreme Court bench clearly stated that the point of concern majorly is about the protection of children, particularly girls in homes run by NGOs. The learned Amicus Curiae has submitted that:

  • NIMHANS, Bengaluru should address the mental and psychiatric health of the children in shelter home.
  • Clinical and Medical aspect to be addressed by All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), Patna.
  • Rehabilitation and re-integration of the children should be left to be addressed by TISS.

All the above-stated suggestions of the Amicus Curiae were accepted by the Supreme Court and the bench directed all the above authorities to prepare a brief course of action and place it on record. Further, the Court required the Ministry of Women and Child Development to inform the steps to be taken in order to ensure that the sexual abuse of children does not take place in the shelter homes and other child care homes across the country.

The Bench reiterated its discussion in regard to no publication of the photographs of the victims of sexual abuse in electronic, print and social media. Also, no interviews of such victims should take place. Another point noted was the revelation of the victim’s identity by one of the accused’s wife in the Muzaffarpur incident for which Amicus Curiae shall disclose all the other names who have done so, and in accordance to law appropriate action shall be taken against them.

The matter is listed for 14-08-2018. [Sampurna Behrua v. Union of India, 2018 SCC OnLine SC 928, Order dated 07-08-2018]