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Madras HC Allows 15 Year Old to Terminate Pregnancy; Said ‘If Foetus Is Given A Choice It Would Definitely Proclaim That It Doesn’t Wish To Be Born’

The Madurai Bench of Madras High Court last month permitted the termination of pregnancy of a 15 year old girl from Virudhu Nagar district while observing that “the court must put itself in the shoes of the unborn Child and objectively decide if coming into this world would be in its best interest.

By: Khushi Yadav, FIMT College, GGSIP University

A bench of Justice G.R. Swaminathan was hearing a petition filed (writ of mandamus) to direct the third respondent to terminate the pregnancy of the petitioner minor girl namely J aged about 15 within the time frame fixed by this court. J’s father had died in the year 2012 and her mother is mentally unstable. And so she is being looked after by her uncle and aunt. 

The bench underlined that “If a choice is given to the foetus now in the womb of the minor, it would definitely proclaim that it would not wish to be born.”

The petitioner approached the court to direct the official respondents to terminate her pregnancy.  In this case, one Sundar enticed J and kidnapped her and established physical intimacy with J several times and since J had become pregnant.

The court ordered notice to the respondents, considering the urgency of the matter, Assistant Surgeon, Virudunagar Government Medical College, and Hospital, and after examining the girl, they categorically opined that her gestational age is about 10 to 11 weeks and that continuing the pregnancy may endanger her physical and mental health. The report also cited the risk involved in continuing pregnancy and called upon this court to permit the termination of pregnancy on medical grounds. 

The pregnancy of the minor girl cannot be terminated without the consent in writing of her guardian as per Section 3 of the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act, 1971. 

The Court quoted the views expressed by Adi Shankara in “Bhajagovindam”, wherein he sang “Again, and again, one is born, and again and again one dies, and again and again one sleeps in the mother’s womb, help me to cross this limitless sea of life, which is uncrossable, my Lord.”

The court said, “While we do celebrate life, the foremost spiritual prayer is that there should be liberation from the cycle of births and deaths.” The court pointed out that “The safety and health of the victim is paramount and doctors will bear in mind. The sample of foetus shall be preserved for carrying out of medical tests for the purpose of the criminal case.” The Court further said that cannot be the end of the matter and thus called for the fast-tracking of the case. 

The court also directed that after the fourth despondent files the final report, the decision regarding taking cognizance will be taken by the special court within three days as mandated in the statutory rules and if cognizance is taken, the trial was directed to be disposed of on merits and as per law within three months thereafter. 

The bench observed “Though from a common perspective one may comment the J eloped with Sundar, in the eye of law she is a child. She is a victim of circumstances. The Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012 Contains beneficial provisions for payment of compensation. After applying the legal Provisions to the fact of the case the Court held that the minor is entitled to interim compensation.” 

Thus the investigation officer was directed to take out an application for payment of interim compensation before the Special Court under the aforesaid provision. 

It was said that Special Court will pass an appropriate order so that a sum of 5,000 is credited every month to the bank account of Thiru Veluchamy to maintain J and such remittance will be made for 36 months.

This court will make arrangements for providing the necessary funds for disbursement by the Special Court. 

Lastly, the court allowed the petition with the mentioned directions.

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