Pregnancy of above 20 weeks can be terminated if it serves the ‘best interest’ of pregnant girl

Gujarat High Court: A Bench comprising of J.B. Pardiwala, J. allowed a writ application filed by a victim of rape for termination of her pregnancy, subject to her examination by two doctors to ensure that the termination can be carried out safely.

The applicant, a 16 year old girl was a victim of rape, due to which she got impregnated. The Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act only allows for termination of pregnancy below 20 weeks. Since, her pregnancy was a bit above 20 weeks she made an application for termination to the Court. The Court noted that the victim is aged sixteen years and is carrying pregnancy of above 20 weeks, which will cause a lot of mental stress and grave injury to her mental health.

The Court followed the case of Madhuben Arvindbhai Nimavat v. State of Gujarat,  2016 SCC OnLine Guj 662 in which a plethora of cases dealing with identical issues were discussed and the test of ‘best interest’ was applied. In that case, it was held that the Court shall have to consider the course of action bearing in mind the ‘best interest’ theory. Victim girl is very young. Her trauma, mental agony and possibilities of social ostracism needs to be kept in view. Considering the medical opinion on feasibility of continuing pregnancy as well as social circumstances faced by the victim, the Court’s decision has to be guided by the best interest of the victim alone and not of the guardians or the society.

In the present case, the Court observed that a doctor has personally examined the victim and submitted that she is in a fit condition to undergo termination and it is not likely to endanger her life. Consequently, the Court disposed of the application by directing that two other doctors, will examine the victim once again to ensure that the pregnancy can be terminated without compromising the safety of the victim. If the procedure is safe for her, the pregnancy should be terminated. [Pujaben Subedar Yadav v. State of Gujarat, 2017 SCC OnLine Guj 453, decided on 3-5-2017]

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