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Monday, April 12, 2021

Pregnant rape victim must be told about legal rights: SC

In the course of the hearing, the court observed that rape survivors, who become pregnant, must be told about her legal rights.

By: Express News Service | New Delhi |
Updated: March 13, 2021 5:20:03 am
The girl had approached the court seeking permission to terminate her pregnancy, which had crossed 26 weeks and the court had called for a medical report in this regard.

The Supreme Court on Friday sought the Centre’s response on a prayer for setting up of medical boards in states and union territories to decide on termination of pregnancies exceeding 20 weeks in cases of rape.

A bench of Chief Justice of India S A Bobde and Justice A S Bopanna issued the notice on the plea by a 14-year-old girl raped allegedly by a relative. In the course of the hearing, the court observed that rape survivors, who become pregnant, must be told about her legal rights.

The girl had approached the court seeking permission to terminate her pregnancy, which had crossed 26 weeks and the court had called for a medical report in this regard. On Friday, her counsel V K Biju said he was not pressing the prayer for termination of pregnancy in view of the medical opinion. Biju, however, sought court’s intervention to frame guideline on appointment of medical boards “to decide cases of unwanted pregnancies that has crossed 20 weeks” in each state and UT.

Dwelling on this, CJI Bobde told Additional Solicitor General Aishwarya Bhati that it will be helpful if there is a board to check such cases. “When rapes are not reported to you as a state, it’s different. But when it’s reported, you can follow up with whether she (the survivor) is pregnant and what are her legal rights. If a woman gets raped and pregnant she must be told of options,” said the CJI.

Bhati said said she will file a detailed affidavit and added that the Medical Termination of Pregnancy (Amendment) Bill, 2020, which increases the time period for termination of pregnancy, is pending in Rajya Sabha.

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