Rajasthan High Court: The Life of a Rape Victim Outweighs the Life of the Child in her Womb

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The Rajasthan High Court bench turned down the petition to end the child’s pregnancy. It held that the baby in the belly reserved an option to live as ensured under Article 21 of the Constitution. Moreover, other supporting reasons referred to are as follows:

  1. The balance was inclined to a child in the belly w.r.t. right to life opposite the clinical end of the pregnancy.
  2. The mother of the rape survivor recorded the petition. She was unable to comprehend what the expecting mother would feel.
  3. An NGO had consented to take in the child after his birth.

Be that as it may, this judgment conflicted with the very standards of MTPA (Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act). The Hon’ble High Court couldn’t find a way to help the rape victim in this situation. It wishes to give better alleviation to future cases.

Arguments Advanced 

The Court weighed the right to life of the child rape victim and the right to life of the fetus. The contention was that in cases where pregnancy is a result of sexual assault, the precedence of the former’s rights is of importance. If it allows the pregnancy, the minor girl’s right to life would be infringed. It would also cause “grave injury” to the mental health of the young victim. Adding salt to this wound is the fact that if the pregnancy is not allowed to be terminated her fundamental right to avoid the after-effects of the pregnancy would be permanently extinguished.

It was further argued that she would be forced to go through the trauma of giving birth at such a tender age. Moreover, it is a clear violation of Article 21 of the victim which has sworn to protect a women’s privacy, dignity, and bodily integrity. Another after-effect of this predicament; the forced unborn child would fall in the category of a child in need of care and protection under the Juvenile Justice Act.

Court’s Observation

The High Court set the record straight and gave the following directions and observations:

1. State Government shall frame guidelines. They must provide timely legal and medical help to rape victims who become pregnant because of the sexual assault.

2. Once the complaint of the assault has been filed, the Medical Officer/SHO shall forward it to the Full Time Secretary, District Legal Service Authority. He shall then approach the victim with a female counsellor. He shall then sensitize her and her guardians about the remedies under the MTP Act.

3. If the filing of the application for termination of the pregnancy is in 20 weeks (as per the Act), it shall be resolved within three days.

4. In case the 20-weeks deadline expires, the Full Time Secretary, District Legal Services Authority shall assist the victim’s guardian in filing the application in the High Court.

5. Protection of the victim’s identity is a must at all stages of the process.

Court’s Order

A division bench comprising of Justice Sandeep Mehta and Dr Justice Pushpendra Singh Bhati rendered the judgment. They stated that “the right of a child rape victim to make the reproductive choice of terminating the fetus heavily outweighs the right of the child in the fetus womb to be born even where the pregnancy is at an advanced stage”.


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