Deeming abortion to be in the “best interest” of the victim, the Gujarat High Court permitted the termination of a 22-week pregnancy of a 14 year old rape survivor.

The Medical Termination of Pregnancy(MTP) Act allows termination of pregnancy only up to the 20th week of pregnancy. However, the present case was one which the Court saw as an exception.

Decision made after careful consideration of medical opinion

In the order that was given last week, Justice Sonia Gokani said that the court arrived at the decision after careful inquiry of the medical opinion regarding the feasibility of the pregnancy. She also mentioned that the social circumstances faced by the victim were also taken into consideration.

Justice Gonaki further said that the fragile health of the victim as well as the poor haemoglobin level entailed that a team of doctors examine her again and also ensure the girl’s safety.

The victim who hailed from Rajkot earlier moved a special criminal application which sought Court permission to terminate her 22-week pregnancy at the earliest. Her age and the “larger interest of justice” were cited as part of the appeal. Continuing the pregnancy, it was mentioned, would gravely injure her health and well-being.

To come to the decision, the High Court relied on an order by the Supreme Court in the case of Chandrakant Jayantilal Suthar vs State of Gujarat. In that case, the SC held the best interest of the victim to be the benchmark when it comes to passing orders in similar cases.

Justice Gokani brings this aspect of the case forward when she says that the Court’s decision was guided by the best interest of the victim alone and not that of the guardian or the stakeholder.

The victim had severe anaemia with 6.5 percent haemoglobin. The pregnancy was 22 weeks and 3 days as of June 7, 2016. As per medical opinion, the termination could be performed with the Court’s order and after the correction of anaemia with due risk to the procedure- Some of the points that Justice Gokani related.

The rape case was filed in the Rajkot Mahila police on May 22, 2016 after the parents of the victim learned that their daughter was pregnant. The accused in the case- a 21 year old youth was later apprehended. He currently serves time.

The victim’s parents earlier moved a Court in Rajkot to procure permission for terminating the pregnancy. But the Rajkot Court denied the permission which led them to approach the High Court.

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