SC seeks response on monetary aid to 10-year-old rape victim

₹10 lakh relief proposed for girl who gave birth on Thursday

A day after a 10-year-old rape victim gave birth in a Chandigarh hospital, the Supreme Court sought a response from the Centre and the Chandigarh Administration on a plea to pay her ₹10 lakh in compensation.

On July 27, faced with a medical opinion that an abortion would endanger the lives of both the victim and her 32-week-old foetus, the Supreme Court was compelled to refuse the medical termination of the pregnancy.

Charge sheet

Appearing before a Bench of Justices Madan B. Lokur and Deepak Gupta on Friday, senior advocate Indira Jaising said the Chandigarh Administration had been insisting on a charge sheet before considering the question of payment of any compensation.

“That is no answer ... What they say is absurd. We will issue a notice to the Chandigarh Administration,” the Bench said.

“On Thursday, this court had given a compensation of ₹10 lakh to a woman in a similar kind of case. Here is a 10-year-old mother who cannot look after the child. Nothing has been paid to her so far,” Ms. Jaising submitted.

Hearing on Aug 22

The girl became pregnant after she was allegedly repeatedly raped by her uncle. Her pregnancy was discovered when she complained of a stomach ache last month and was taken to a hospital.

The court also sought a response from the National Legal Services Authority (NALSA) and District Legal Services Authority of Chandigarh and posted the matter for further hearing on August 22.

The court had on July 17 directed the Bihar government to pay ₹10 lakh compensation to a destitute woman who was allegedly raped and not allowed to terminate her 26-week pregnancy after a medical board’s opinion.

Medical facilities

The court found that the woman, who is also HIV positive, had gone to the Patna Medical College and Hospital to get her pregnancy terminated when she was in her 17th week.

Ms. Jaising has said that delay in offering urgent medical help to such abused women and children have led to untold suffering for them.

Earlier, in the 10-year-old’s case, while expressing its inability to intervene on her behalf, the apex court had strongly urged the Centre to set up permanent medical boards in all States so that women, especially child rape victims, could receive expedient access to medical care.

The Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act, 1971, bars abortion if the foetus has crossed the 20-week mark. An exception to the law is made if a registered medical practitioner certifies to a court that the continued pregnancy is life-threatening for either the mother or the baby.

At present, women are forced to undertake the cumbersome process of approaching different courts for permission to medically terminate their pregnancies which are over 20 weeks old.

The frequent number of such cases which have come to the Supreme Court range from child rape victims to destitute women to women with substantial foetus abnormalities.

Bill hanging fire

An amended Bill of the 1971 law, which extends the bar from 20 to 24 weeks, has been in the cold storage for the past three years. This draft Bill allows women, whose pregnancies are within 24 weeks, reproductive rights in consultation with their medical practitioners. The draft Bill also allows abortion beyond 24 weeks in case the foetus suffers from substantial abnormalities.

As of now, women who have crossed the 20-week limit need a judicial order to even get medically examined on their plea for abortion.

A letter from the Editor

Dear reader,

We have been keeping you up-to-date with information on the developments in India and the world that have a bearing on our health and wellbeing, our lives and livelihoods, during these difficult times. To enable wide dissemination of news that is in public interest, we have increased the number of articles that can be read free, and extended free trial periods. However, we have a request for those who can afford to subscribe: please do. As we fight disinformation and misinformation, and keep apace with the happenings, we need to commit greater resources to news gathering operations. We promise to deliver quality journalism that stays away from vested interest and political propaganda.

Support Quality Journalism
Recommended for you
This article is closed for comments.
Please Email the Editor

Printable version | Jun 4, 2020 5:21:49 AM |

Next Story