Supreme Court: In the case where a 35-year-old woman was not allowed to abort her foetus by the Patna High Court as her foetus was 24-weeks-old at the time when the High Court was deciding the matter, the 3-judge bench of Dipak Misra, Amitava Roy and AM Khanwilkar, JJ directed the State of Bihar to pay a compensation of Rs. 10, 00, 000 to the appellant as it was due to the laxity of the authorities in terminating her pregnancy as she was 18 weeks pregnant when she expressed her desire to terminate her pregnancy. The Court said that the appellant has to be compensated so that she lives her life with dignity and the authorities of the State who were negligent would understand that truancy has no space in a situation of the present kind.
As per the facts of the case, the woman, a rape survivor who was living on the streets of Patna after being rejected by her husband and family, was brought to a shelter home from footpath. The functionaries of the home found her to be 13 weeks pregnant and took her to Patna Medical College Hospital to terminate her pregnancy with her consent. Her father and brother were called and made to sign a consent form. The appellant was also found to be HIV+. However, the hospital did not terminate her pregnancy and by that time she had entered into 20th week of pregnancy. When the woman approached the High Court, the single judge impleaded the husband and father of the woman. However, the notice was not served to the husband as his name was wrongly mentioned that caused further delay. Director of Indira Gandhi Institute of Medical Sciences was also directed to constitute a Multi-Disciplinary Medical Board to examine the victim with regard to physical and mental state and the condition of the foetus. The Court, after, going through the Medical report, thought is fit to reject the woman’s plea to abort her foetus as the foetus was 23-24 weeks old and the termination of the same would be hazardous to the life of the woman.
Considering the facts of the case, the Court said that it was luminescent that the appellant has suffered grave injury to her mental health and the said injury is in continuance. The bench said that one may have courage or cultivate courage to face a situation, but the shock of rape is bound to chain and enslave her with the trauma she has faced and cataclysm that she has to go through. Her condition cannot be reversed.
The bench also stated that the singe Judge should have been more alive to the provisions of the Medical termination of Pregnancy Act, 1971 and the necessity of consent only of the appellant in the facts of the case. There was no reason whatsoever to implead the husband and father of the appellant. The appellant was a destitute, a victim of rape and further she was staying in a shelter home. Calling for a medical report was justified but to delay it further was not at all warranted. The Court said that the High Courts are required to be more sensitive while dealing with matters of the present nature.
The Court directed that the compensation from the State be kept in a fixed deposit in the appellant’s name so that she may enjoy the interest. It was also directed that the child to be born, shall be given proper treatment and nutrition by the State and if any medical aid is necessary, it shall also be provided. If there will be any future grievance, liberty is granted to the appellant to approach the High Court under Article 226 of the Constitution of India after the birth of the child. [Ms. Z v. State of Bihar, 2017 SCC OnLine SC 943, decided on 17.08.2017]