Imposing the responsibility of motherhood on a sexual assault victim would amount to denying her the human right to live with dignity, the Delhi High Court has observed while passing a slew of guidelines for medical examination of such victims in cases where pregnancy exceeds 24 weeks.
The high court said to force the victim to give birth to a child of a man who sexually assaulted her would result in unexplainable miseries, and cases where sexual assault results into pregnancy are even more traumatic as the shadow of such tragic moment lingers on each day with her.
It was dealing with a case in which a 14-year-old girl, who got pregnant after being sexually assaulted, sought to undergo medical termination of 25-week pregnancy, which was beyond the permissible limit of 24 weeks.
The court was informed that the victim’s family members are construction workers and she was sexually assaulted while her mother had gone out for work.
Justice Swarana Kanta Sharma allowed the plea for medical termination of pregnancy (MTP) after the minor’s mother consented to it and also after perusing the report of medical board which examined her.
The court asked the girl to appear before the competent authority of Ram Manohar Lohia Hospital on Friday for the purpose of medical termination of her pregnancy.
Noting that crucial time is lost in the process of passing orders for medical examination of the sexual assault victim by a medical board in case of 24 weeks or above of pregnancy which further endangers her life, the high court has passed guidelines to be followed by the investigating officers.
The guidelines which need to be circulated through the commissioner of police to all investigating officers include that at the time of medical examination of a victim of sexual assault, it will be mandatory to conduct a urine pregnancy test, as it has been noticed that in many cases it is not conducted.
The court said that if the sexual assault victim is a major who gives her consent and expresses desire for conducting MTP, the investigating agency will ensure that she is produced before the medical board the same day.
“In case a minor victim of sexual assault is carrying pregnancy, upon the consent of her legal guardian and desire of such legal guardian for termination of pregnancy, the victim will be produced before such board,” the court said.
After examination, the report will be placed before authorities concerned so that if a judicial order is being sought regarding MTP, the court concerned does not lose any more time and is in a position to pass an order expeditiously, it said.
The court said that as per Section 3(2C) and Section 3(2D) of the MTP Act, it is mandated that the state government or Union territory has to ensure that medical boards are to be constituted in the hospitals.