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'Fully developed foetus has right to live': Rajasthan HC turns down minor rape victim’s abortion plea

JAIPUR: The Rajasthan High Court has declined a plea of a 11-year-old rape survivor to terminate her 31-week pregnancy, saying a fully developed foetus also has the right to life and live a healthy life without any abnormalities.

The court observed that any attempt to terminate the pregnancy at this advanced stage is likely to lead to a premature delivery and the same may affect the neurotic development of the unborn child.

The survivor was allegedly raped by her father and and filed the plea through her maternal uncle. The plea stated that the girl does not wish to give birth to such a child as it would be a constant reminder of the atrocities committed on her and would not be good for her mental health and social well being.

A bench of Justice Anoop Kumar Dhand, in an order on Wednesday, said the delay by the child in approaching the court has only further aggravated the said aspect of termination of pregnancy.

There is no material available on the record on the basis of which this court may differ with the opinion expressed by the medical board.

“The medical board is in the opinion that abortion at such an advanced stage would endanger her life. The court observed that any attempt of termination of pregnancy at this advanced stage is likely to lead to a premature delivery and the same may affect the neurotic development of the unborn child. The fully developed foetus also has the right to life under Article 21 of the Constitution of India to enter in this world and live a healthy life without any abnormalities,” the court order said.

The victim’s lawyer Fatehchand Saini said the FIR was lodged by her maternal uncle against the child’s father under sections of Indian Penal Code Section 376 (rape) and sections of POCSO Act.

The victim’s father is an alcoholic while mother is mentally challenged. The girl’s father had earlier this month left the daughter at the house of her maternal uncle who lodged the FIR on the survivor’s behalf, according to the plea.

A case has been registered in the matter at the Shahpura police station in Jaipur Rural.

Saini said the medical examination of the girl was done by a medical board, the report of which was presented in the court on January 17.

The medical board stated that considering the girl’s age and weight (34.2 kg) and her deranged liver function tests, she is at high risk with regard to her pregnancy.

The court also cited a 2023 Supreme Court case involving a 28-week pregnant woman, as well as two matters before the Punjab and Haryana High Court where it turned down pleas to terminate pregnancy of minor rape survivors, stating that this court has no valid reason to take a different view.

Considering the case, the court said the girl can stay at a home for girls till she attains adulthood and also issued direction to the state government, police and health staff to look after the girl’s well being.

The court directed the superintendent of Mahila Chikitsalya to ensure a safe delivery, to retain and preserve the tissues, cord and blood sample of foetus for the purpose of DNA test by forensic lab and hand over them to the investigating officer of the case when required.

Upon birth, the child may be handed over to the Child Welfare Committee which may put him or her up for adoption in accordance with law.

The court also directed the Rajasthan State Legal Services Authority (RSLSA) and the District Legal services Authority (DLSA), Jaipur, to provide compensation to the survivor under the provision of the Rajasthan Victim Compensation Scheme, 2011.

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