SC allows rape survivor to terminate pregnancy, says Gujarat HC can't 'counterblast' its order

Supreme Court | Shutterstock images

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Monday allowed a rape survivor to undergo the procedure of termination of pregnancy. It also slammed the Gujarat High Court for passing an order on the plea when it was being considered by the apex court. However, the court refrained from making any comment in its order. 

In the order, the bench observed that while pregnancy in a marriage is an occasion for joy, pregnancy outside marriage, particularly after sexual assault, is injurious to the mental health of a woman.

Taking note of the medical report which favoured the woman's plea, the Court allowed her to undergo the procedure for termination of pregnancy.

"We permit appellant to terminate her pregnancy. We direct her to be present in hospital today or 9 AM tomorrow, so that procedure for termination of pregnancy can be carried out"

Subsequent to the medical procedure to be carried out, in the event the foetus is found to be alive, the hospital is to give all facilities including incubation to ensure foetus survives, the court directed. The State shall then take steps to ensure the child is adopted in accordance in law, the court further directed.

SC slams Gujarat HC

After the SC took up the matter for hearing, the Gujarat High Court on August 19 attempted to clarify that the order of adjournment was granted in order to enable the counsel to get instructions from the woman if she was willing to give the child to the State's facility.

The Supreme Court bench took great exception to this seemingly 'clarificatory' order passed by the High Court.

"We do not appreciate High Court's counterblast to Supreme Court's orders. What is happening in High Court of Gujarat? Do judges reply like this to superior court's order? We do not appreciate this", Justice Nagarathna expressed her dismay.

Solicitor General of India Tushar Mehta appeared before the Court and requested the bench to refrain from making comments about the High Court judge, while adding that the petitioner can be granted relief. "Some misunderstanding was there. I think Your Ladyship might leave it at that", SG Mehta requested.

Last Saturday, the Supreme Court had held a Special Sitting to hear the woman's plea to terminate pregnancy nearing 28 weeks. During the special sitting, the bench comprising Justices BV Nagarathna and Ujjal Bhuyan had criticised the Gujarat High Court for handling the matter in a "lackadaisical manner". First, the High Court had adjourned the hearing for 12 days and later, it advanced the hearing and dismissed the petition; but the order of dismissal, passed on August 17, was not uploaded even on the date when the Supreme Court had taken up this matter. In this backdrop, the Supreme Court had sought for an explanation from the High Court Registry, after observing that "valuable time" was lost due to the High Court's approach.

As regards the order passed by the High Court's order of August 19, the court refrained from making any comment in the order. "We refrain from saying anything on the HC order dated August 19", the bench stated in the order.

(With LiveLaw inputs.)

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