The Delhi High Court has allowed a 16-year-old girl, an alleged rape survivor, to undergo termination of nearly 24-week pregnancy after her father, who earlier consented to the minor’s abortion, did not come forward to sign the consent form.
The court said in view of the urgency of the matter, as there were only 2-3 days left before the legal limit of 24 weeks, the superintendent of Nirmal Chhaya Complex, where the girl has been staying since October, can sign the consent form. The superintendent of the facility was appointed as the girl’s guardian by the Child Welfare Committee.
Justice Dinesh Kumar Sharma said allowing the minor to give birth and raise the child, knowing that she herself is an adolescent and mentally and physically unprepared, will be totally inappropriate and improper.
“This would only be leading her to trauma for the entire life and miseries in all manners, be it emotional, physical and mental, given the social, financial and other factors associated with raising a child,” the court said.
A report from a medical board last month said the girl is 22-week pregnant and was fit to continue the pregnancy or undergo medical termination. The court said it was duty bound to see the best interest of the girl.
“This court considers that in view of the consent given by the victim, the same cannot be frustrated only on the account of an irresponsible act of her father, who after giving consent, is not coming forward to fulfil the formalities. The reasons for this act of the father can later be seen and inquired into by the investigation officer during the investigation of the case,” it said.
The court was hearing a plea filed by the minor through her father, for handing her custody to him. The matter was pending when the court was told that the girl was pregnant, which led to the formation of a medical board.
Thereafter, the minor and her father told the high court that they were ready for medical termination of pregnancy. The father gave his consent for the procedure.
The court had asked the Medical Superintendent of Lady Hardinge Medical College and the medical board to ensure that the termination of pregnancy is undertaken by competent doctors.
The court also said the doctors should preserve the tissue of the foetus as it may be necessary for DNA identification and other purposes regarding the criminal case linked to the sexual assault.
“The state shall also bear all expenses necessary for the termination of pregnancy of the petitioner, her medicines, food etc. The state shall also bear all expenses for further care during recovery,” it said.
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