The Gujarat High Court on Thursday rejected a petition filed by a gangrape victim from Botad, who had sought permission to terminate her nearly seven-month pregnancy. The court told the victim “to bravely go ahead with the pregnancy and when time comes, deliver the child…” and also directed the state government to look after the mother and the child and not let the baby be abandoned. The victim is 23-year-old and has two children.
While rejecting the petition, Justice J B Pardiwala held that such permission can’t be granted since the period of permitting abortion has expired and allowing the petition would have adverse impact on the health of both the petitioner and her unborn child. He has also noted that investigation into the case is yet to be concluded. However, he stated that even from the point of view of law, permission can’t be granted. He directed the state government to assist the victim by providing medical facilities and also ordered police protection for the victim’s family.
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The order said, “The Collector, Botad, shall personally look into the matter and keep a close watch on the applicant and her family members including the husband of the applicant.
The Collector shall ensure that proper medical facilities are provided to the applicant and the child is delivered safely. The Collector shall also see to it that after the delivery, the child is looked after well and is not abandoned in any manner. If necessary, the Collector can avail of the services of any NGO or any other government social organisation in this regard.”
According to government pleader Mitesh Amin, the court rejected the permission since the victim has reached 28th weeks of pregnancy and termination at this stage can’t be allowed in accordance with the law.
As per the FIR lodged at the Ranpur police station in Botad district on March 16, the victim was allegedly abducted in July 2014 from outside her home and gangraped by seven men who kept her at different places for nine to 10 months. When the FIR was lodged she was already 24 weeks pregnant. According to the petitioner her husband has disowned her and wants her to terminate the pregnancy at any cost.
Following revelation of her pregnancy, she moved a petition seeking abortion in a lower court which rejected her plea on the ground that provisions of Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act (MTPA) don’t permit abortion in case the pregnancy period exceeded 20 weeks.
Justice J B Pardiwala said “… howsoever harsh one may find the law, one has to respect it. She must understand that termination at his stage will put her own life in peril.” Justice Pardiwala mentioned cases of rape victims who went through similar ordeal in foreign countries and has cited various judgments by the courts of UK, Germany, Canada among others. He mentions, “A child in her womb by a woman as a result of conception through an act of rape is not only extremely traumatic for her but humiliating, frightening and psychologically devastating and as a human being, more particularly in the Indian society, she becomes an object of scorn and ostracisation. This is very unfortunate.”