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Minor to be allowed to terminate her pregnancy caused due to rape, as continuing with the same would lead to harmful effects on her mental health: Bombay High Court

The decision that a minor is allowed to terminate her pregnancy that occurred due to rape, as continuing with the same would lead to harmful effects on her mental health is upheld by the High Court of Bombay through the learned bench led by HONOURABLE MR. JUSTICE P.D.NAIK & HONOURABLE MR. JUSTICE ABHAY AHUJA in the case of XXX Versus State of Maharastra(WRIT PETITION (ST) NO. 8471 OF 2022).

Brief facts of the case are that the petitioner is a minor aged 14 years and 6 months. She was raped by her cousin brother at her ancestral home in Bihar. An FIR was also lodged under section 376(3) of the I.P.C. and under sections 4, 8 and 12 of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences, Act, 2012. On February 7, 2022, the survivor returned to Mumbai. When her mother took her to Balaji Hospital in late April 2022 due to severe vomiting, it was discovered that she was pregnant. Because the Petitioner is a minor victim of alleged sexual assault, this petition has been filed in her best interests/permission from the court to medically terminate her pregnancy due to her young age.

The counsel for petitioners, Mr. Pravin Naik with Geetashri Bejjanki, contended that the victim petitioner’s mental health was being seriously harmed as a result of the mental trauma she was experiencing as a result of the pregnancy produced by the rape offence. Apart from that, motherhood at such a young age posed an inherent risk to her life. The hospital report and the suggestions of the medical committee clearly indicated that continuing a minor’s pregnancy may result in pregnancy-related complications such as anaemia, pregnancy-induced hypertension, complications during labour, and increased operative interference during labour, as well as a negative psychological impact on the pregnant minor’s mental health. Because the girl is a minor and there has been an allegation of sexual assault, it is suggested that she does not carry the pregnancy to term.

The court referred to the cases of WP No. 12054 of 2019 (‘X’ Vs. The State of Maharashtra) and WP(L) No. 11131 of 2021,(“X”,since minor through her father Mr. Jitendra Kumar Singh), where, in the circumstances of alleged sexual assault, the court has allowed for medical termination of pregnancy. Given the medical and psychological harm the petitioner may experience as a result of her ongoing pregnancy at such a young age, compelling the Petitioner to continue the pregnancy would be a major violation of her fundamental right to make reproductive decisions, as well as her bodily integrity and dignity. As a result, the court said that it does not propose to take any different decision.

As stated in Section 3(2)(b)(i) of the Medical Termination Pregnancy Act,

1971 (“MTP Act”), the termination of a pregnancy is permitted if the pregnant woman’s life or physical or mental health is jeopardised by continuing the pregnancy. When a pregnancy is generated by rape, the misery caused by the pregnancy is deemed to be a grave impairment to the pregnant woman’s mental health, according to Explanation 2 to this sub-section. The court said that in this instance, Petitioner’s pregnancy was produced by the claimed rape, which apparently caused grief to Petitioner, resulting in substantial impairment to Petitioner’s mental health. There is therefore no question that the continuation of this pregnancy will continue to harm Petitioner’s mental health. Besides this, her life is inherently in danger at her early age of 14 years and six months. However, the statutory time of twenty-four weeks has not yet expired. Because Petitioner is a victim of alleged sexual assault and has suffered serious emotional harm, she must be allowed to have her pregnancy terminated medically.

JUDGEMENT REVIEWED BY- ATIVA GOSWAMI

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