SC bats for medical boards at district level for termination of pregnancy of rape victims

The Supreme Court on Friday said it will be helpful if there are local medical boards to look at cases requiring termination of pregnancy.

A bench headed by Chief Justice S.A. Bobde batted for a mechanism at district level where a girl who has been impregnated due to rape, can go for termination of foetus as her legal right.

The bench sought response from the Centre within two weeks on the plea of a minor rape victim for setting up medical boards at district level to examine cases in connection with termination of pregnancy. The petitioner moved the top court last month as her pregnancy was 26-week-old.

Advocate V K Biju, representing the petitioner, submitted “I must show my gratitude to you. You have shown gratefulness to the victim.” Additional Solicitor General Aishwarya Bhati, representing the Centre, said the Centre will file an affidavit in the matter.

Biju contended he would not press for termination of pregnancy due to a report by the medical board and insisted that the other prayer in the plea in connection with medical boards at district level was for all the victims. He added that it is an extremely serious situation, as many children were being affected and added that he has seen the pain of the parents.

The bench noted, “A girl who has been impregnated because of rape, she should know her legal rights, and options.” Biju said this matter needs to be dealt with sensitivity and care. The bench replied there should be some mechanism for the girl to understand her legal rights. Centre’s counsel said a new law has been proposed on the subject and insisted that everything will be brought on the affidavit. The bench told the Centre’s counsel when rape is reported to you there can be a board to look into it and it will be helpful if there is a local board.

After a detailed hearing in the matter, the top court issued notice to Centre on the prayer in the petition seeking constitution of medical board at district level all over India to protect and deal with rape victims.

According to the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act, 1971, a foetus of above 20 weeks cannot be terminated without a nod from the court.