Bombay High Court directed the State of Maharashtra to formulate SOP in order to avoid the need for Court’s approval in MTP exceeding 24 Weeks

Case title: ABC Vs State of Maharashtra & Anr.

Case no.: Writ Petition No. 2319 of 2024

Decision on: April 5th, 2024

Quoram: Chief Justice Devendra Kumar Upadhyaya and Justice Nitin W Sambre

Facts of the case

The petitioner had filed a writ under Article 226 and sought the Court to direct the respondents to allow her to undergo medical termination of pregnancy on the ground of carrying abnormal foetus. Considering the fact that her pregnancy had exceeded twenty four weeks, the Court directed the Civil Surgeon to conduct a medical examination and submit a report.

The Medical Board at the General Hospital, Wardha, comprising nine doctors and one matron, conducted the examination and submitted its report, confirming the abnormalities in the foetus. The Report of the Medical Board revealed that continuation of pregnancy of petitioner who is thirty two weeks pregnant would result in grave injury to her mental health and also involve substantial risks as to physical abnormalities of her child, if born. The Medical Board thus recommended for the termination of pregnancy.

Issue – Medical Termination of Pregnancy exceeding 24 weeks in case of carrying abnormal foetus.

Court’s Analysis and Judgement

The Court delved into Section 3(2) of the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act, 1971 and noted that a pregnancy with a length of twenty weeks may be terminated by a registered medical practitioner and where the length of pregnancy is between twenty and twenty four weeks by two registered practitioners. Further, it also highlighted the exception carved out under sub-section 2B of Section 3, which permitted the termination of pregnancy exceeding twenty-four weeks if the diagnosis by Medical Board suggests that continuance of the same would lead to substantial foetal abnormalities. In view of the above statutory provisions, the Court directed the Management of the Hospital to terminate the pregnancy of the petitioner.

However in the course of passing the order, it also observed averments on the Doctors of General Hospital, Wardha. The Court noted that despite the provision of the MTP Act and the MTP Rules, 2003, which laid down mandate as to the termination of pregnancy exceeding 24 weeks, the doctors ignored the referral to a Medical Board in such cases and forced the petitioner to seek the permission of the court to terminate her pregnancy.

In light of the above analysis, the Court directed the Department of Public Health and the Department of Medical Education and Drugs of the State of Maharashtra to formulate Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) and issue the same to all government hospitals and medical colleges in the State of Maharashtra in order to avoid the need for Court’s approval in such matters. It also took into account the petitioner’s financial constraints and directed the Management of General Hospital, Wardha to bear all the expenses related to hospitalization, procedures, and medicines. Thereby, posted the matter on June 12th, 2024.

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Judgement Reviewed by – Keerthi K

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