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Supreme Court Rebukes Gujarat High Court's Handling of Rape Survivor's Pregnancy Termination Plea

By LAWSTREET NEWS NETWORK      21 August, 2023 10:24 PM      0 Comments
Supreme Court Rebukes Gujarat High Court's Handling of Rape Survivor's Pregnancy Termination Plea

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Monday slammed the Gujarat High Court over its manner of dealing with a rape survivor's plea for termination of her pregnancy.

The court also expressed its displeasure with the High Court for suggesting to ascertain the possibility of the woman bearing the child, saying such unjust condition was against the "constitutional philosophy".

A bench of Justices B V Nagarathna and Ujjal Bhuyan took exception to the High Court's single judge's clarification order issued on August 19 in the matter, just after the top court assembled on Saturday and directed for the 25-year-old woman's re-examination by a medical board at Bharuch.

"We do not appreciate High Court's counterblast to Supreme Court's orders. What is happening in High Court of Gujarat? Do judges reply like this to superior court's order? We do not appreciate this", the bench said.

The bench also wondered over the need for the High Court to act "suo motu" and pass an order on August 19.

"There is no need of any judge of any court to justify their order," the bench said.

The top court was informed that the High Court sought to justify its order of adjournment was granted by saying it was to enable the counsel to get instructions from the woman if she was willing to give the child to the State's facility for adoption.

Senior Advocate Sanjay Parikh, appearing for the petitioner, submitted that that the same HC judge had invoked Manusmriti n another case related to pregnancy of a minor rape survivor.

The bench said the High Court could not have imposed an unjust condition on a rape survivor.

"The view taken, I'm sorry to say, is against constitutional philosophy? How can you perpetuate unjust condition and force the rape survivor to undergo pregnancy," the bench said.

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta made an interjection with a request to the bench to close the matter as "some misunderstanding" might have resulted in the HC seeking to rectify a clerical error.

"How can we ignore? No judge can counterblast Supreme Court's order," the bench asked even as  Mehta requested the court not to make any adverse comment against the judge concerned as  "He is a good judge. Comments can be discouraging".

The bench then said that the comments are not against any particular judge but on the manner in which the manner was dealt with.

In its order, the bench took into record the medical report and allowed her to terminate her nearly 28-week pregnancy by asking her to visit the hospital on Tuesday for undergoing the process.

In its order, the bench said pregnancy in a marriage is an occasion for joy, but outside of it, particularly after sexual assault, it is injurious to the mental health of a woman.

The court also directed if the foetus is found to be alive, the hospital is to give all facilities including incubation to ensure it survives. Subsequently, the state can ensure for adoption in accordance with law.

In its order, the bench, however, refrained from saying anything on the HC order passed on August 19.

On Saturday, the top court had criticised the High Court for deferring a plea for termination of pregnancy of a rape victim for 12 days, saying such cases should be dealt with some sense of urgency not with lackadaisical attitude.



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