The Calcutta High Court on May 30, 2019, in the case of Ruma Imran @ Shadab Sahab & Anr. v. The State Of West Bengal & Ors., has allowed the termination of pregnancy having a period of more than 25 weeks on finding that the foetus had congenital defect.
The order was passed by Justice Protik Prakash Banerjee by placing reliance on a Division Bench judgment of the Calcutta High Court in Suparna Debnath v. State of West Bengal, which interpreted Section 3 of the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act, 1971, to include a case where there is congenital defect which would not be conducive to the health life of a child if carried to term.
Section 3 of the Act places absolute bar for terminating pregnancy beyond 20 weeks. However, in the Suparna Debnath case, the court held that this bar was not applicable in cases where it was proven that the child will be born with inherent health defects.
"We must hasten to add here that even though in the case of pregnant women, there is a compelling State interest in order to protect the life of the prospective child, there is a corresponding obligation – nay, a bounden duty – on the part of the State to provide quality and dignity to such life and such quality and dignity of life should extend to the mother as well, whose life is paramount at the stage of pregnancy. On the other hand, if it is compromised, the provisions contained under section 3(2)(b) of the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act, 1971, cannot operate as an absolute bar and can extend beyond 20 (twenty) weeks,” the court had held.
In the present case, the court took into consideration the report prepared by the Medical Board constituted by the Director of the Medical College and Hospital, Kolkata. As per the report, the foetus had congenital anomaly, which was not compatible with the normal and healthy life of the child after birth.
Taking the report as "gospel truth", the court passed the order, permitting the woman to terminate her pregnancy.