12-Year-Old Girl Denied Permission To Terminate 25 Weeks Old Twin-Fetuses Due To Risk of Maternal Death: Calcutta High Court
The Single Judge Bench of Justice Aniruddha Roy, in the case of Y v. State of West Bengal (WPA 817 of 2023) on 5th April 2023, denied to grant relief of medical termination of pregnancy to a 12-year-old minor girl, claiming to be a victim of rape and sexual assault citing a report furnished by the Medical Board that stated the risk of Maternal Death.
Facts of the Case:
The Writ Petition was filed by the mother of the minor victim praying for termination of the pregnancy of her daughter. An FIR was registered for the alleged offence of rape and sexual assault under Section 6 of the POCSO Act, 2012 at Bagdogra Police Station on March 9, 2023. The victim was admitted to North Bengal Medical College and Hospital, Siliguri and the Medical Board’s Examination found that the girl was carrying twin live fetuses of 25 weeks and 25 weeks one day respectively, as on March 20, 2023. In accordance to the order of the High Court dated, April 4, 2023, a report was filed by the Zonal Medical Board. The report highlighted the risk of termination of the pregnancy as at the current age of gestation would carry risks of massive hemorrhage, infection, sepsis, surgery and anesthetic risks, to the extent of maternal death. The report also mentioned that delivery of live babies is possible, but may require resuscitation. It requested the Honourable Court to decide whether the babies must be resuscitated or not.
The Court observed that the constitutional protection of life and liberty that includes the freedom to lead a life with dignity, without fear or trauma is statutorily recognized by the MTP Act, 1971. In light of the Report furnished by the Medical Board dated April 4, 2023, the Court observed that it cannot be unmindful of the glaring risks the termination poses at this stage of gestation. The Court asserted that termination of an unwilling pregnancy when it is followed by the risk of maternal death, then it must protect the right to personal life, liberty, and dignity of the minor girl, enshrined under Article 21 of the Constitution. Hence, the Court did not grant any relief for the medical termination of the minor girl. However, the Court further observed that in the event the said minor girl and her family are incapable to nurture and maintain the twin children and if no claim for adoption or maintenance of the said twin children is received or lodged, then the minor girl and her family may approach and apply before the jurisdictional District Magistrate and/or the appropriate authority under the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act of 2015 (hereafter the Act of 2015) for adoption and foster care of the twin children.
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JUDGMENT REVIEWED BY DIVYA SHREE GN