HC asks authorities to take a call on termination of 23-weeks pregnancy of minor rape victim

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 Srinagar, Oct 25: The High Court of J&K and Ladakh Tuesday asked the government to constitute a medical board to take a decision on a minor rape victim's pregnancy which would be 24 weeks by the end of this month.

A bench of Justice Javed Iqbal Wani asked the authorities concerned to undertake a fresh checkup of the victim by a Medical Board which among others should include a psychiatrist and a radiologist.

“Should the (authorities) based on medical opinion or report decide to undertake termination of pregnancy of the petitioner-victim, necessary measures be also taken for preserving of DNA samples of the fetus,” the court said. “The petitioner-victim should be provided appropriate free medical facilities in the event termination of pregnancy is undertaken.”

According to the family’s plea, the minor was kidnapped and subjected to rape in November last year.

Subsequently, the family lodged a missing report with Police on November 10, 2021, and an FIR No 36/2021 under Sections 363, 366-A, and 109 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and 3 and 4 of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offence Act, 2012, was registered at a police station here.

Police later recovered the girl and handed her to her parents after a medical checkup was conducted.

“During the conduct of the ultrasound test on October 16, 2022, she was found to be pregnant by 22 weeks,” the plea said.

According to the plea, the victim’s parents consented to the termination of the “unwanted pregnancy” which had been causing great “mental, psychological, and social stigma besides health danger to her”.

In this regard, the victim approached the Head of the Department, Gynecology, LD Hospital, Government Medical College, Srinagar, but the authorities there refused to undertake the process of termination of pregnancy.

Subsequently, the family filed the present petition before the court seeking directions to the authorities to terminate the unwanted pregnancy.

The law, according to the counsel representing the alleged victim, provides that an opinion should be formed by no less than two registered medical practitioners that the continuance of the pregnancy would involve a risk to the life of the pregnant woman or was of grave injury to her physical or mental health.

The counsel contended that the pregnancy of the victim, having been caused by the alleged rape, constitutes a grave injury to the mental health of the minor.

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