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‘Retarded rape victim can bear child’

J. Venkatesan

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Tuesday allowed a mentally retarded rape victim to bear her child, by refusing medical termination of her 19-week-old pregnancy. The girl is staying in a home for the mentally challenged in Chandigarh.

A Bench, consisting of Chief Justice K.G. Balakrishnan and Justices P. Sathasivam and B.S. Chauhan, stayed an interim order of the Punjab and Haryana High Court directing immediate termination of the pregnancy on the ground that she had limited mental capacity to bear the child.

The CJI told counsel: “We are not in favour of termination of pregnancy. We will give our reasons later.”

Counsel Anupam Gupta, appearing for the Chandigarh Administration, said the girl was not in a position to continue the pregnancy and giving birth to a child would result in complications.

Advocate Tanu Bedi, who appealed against the High Court order, argued that the victim had a right to give birth to her child. She said the National Trust constituted under the National Trust for the Welfare of Persons with Autism, Cerebral Palsy, Mental Retardation and Multiple Disabilities Act, 1999, had agreed to provide her social and financial support and take care of the child after delivery.

Counsel for the Trust said it was funding several institutions and would support the girl.

The CJI said: “We are sure that somebody will be in a position to give protection to the child. Our anxiety is the foetus is already 19 weeks. The second medical opinion says her physical condition is good to bear the child. The child is not suffering from any deformity. Nature will give her biological protection. If somebody is ready to take care of the child, should we even then order medical termination of pregnancy? Nature will take care on its own.”

Justice Sathasivam told Gupta: “Is it not possible for the Chandigarh administration to take care of the child. Is it not your responsibility to protect her?”

When the Bench examined a psychiatrist and a gynaecologist, both of them said the girl could give birth to the child under full support and care, but there were chances of serious mental complications in the mother and the child.

The CJI said: “We know as a natural mother she will not be able to take care of the child. But if somebody is ready to look after the child, then there would not be any problem.”

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