Delhi High Court Issues Guidelines For Medical Examination Of Rape Victims In Cases Where Pregnancy Exceeds 24 Weeks
The Delhi High Court on January 25 issued the guidelines to be followed by the investigating officers for medical examination of rape victims in cases where the pregnancy exceeds 24 weeks.
The Court said that to force the victim to give birth to the child of a man who sexually assaulted her would result in unexplainable miseries.
A Single Bench of Justice Swarana Kanta Sharma observed, “One will shudder to think what a victim who is carrying such fetus in her womb must be going through each day, being reminded constantly of the sexual assault that she has undergone. Cases where sexual assault results into pregnancy of the victim are even more traumatic as the shadow of such tragic moment lingers on each day with the victim.”
The petitioner was a minor who approached the Court through her mother under Article 226 of the Constitution praying for issuance of directions by virtue of writ of mandamus to the respondents to conduct medical termination of her pregnancy under the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act, 1971 (MTP Act).
Advocate Anwesh Madhukar appeared on behalf of the petitioner i.e., the rape victim while ASC Sachin Mittal represented the State.
Brief Facts –
In September 2022, the minor child i.e., the petitioner aged 14 years, was sexually assaulted and raped by the accused. Initially, though the petitioner missed her period for four months, she did not inform her mother about the same as she was scared. However, after her mother noticed the physical changes in her, she disclosed to her mother about the sexual assault.
The FIR was registered in this matter and thereafter, when the petitioner underwent a Medical Test/USG from a Diagnostic and Imaging Centre, she was found to be 24 weeks and 5 days pregnant. On perusing the case of the petitioner, it was found by the Child Welfare Committee that she was beyond the permissible gestational age limit under the MTP Act, 1971, and was directed to approach the High Court and seek judicial intervention.
The High Court after hearing the contentions of both parties noted, “The fact of her not being able to get educated despite wanting to go to a school makes this Court note that the facilities extended by various Government Schemes is not even known to majority of people who might be the beneficiary of same.”
This Court further asserted with a sense of sadness that in such cases the termination of pregnancy is not the end of the road of misery rather it takes another.
“… this Court deems it appropriate that the victim of tender age before this Court who wants to educate herself and be of value to the society and keeping in mind the constitutional duty of this Court deems it appropriate to direct the SHO concerned to ensure that after the MTP and the period of rest advised is over for the victim child, she will be admitted to a Government school nearby”, the Court observed.
The Court also felt that crucial time was lost in the process of passing orders for medical examination of the victim by a board in case of 24 weeks or above of pregnancy due to sexual assault which further endangers her life.
The Court, therefore, issued the following guidelines to be circulated through the Commissioner of Police to all investigating officers concerned -
1. At the time of medical examination of a victim of sexual assault, it will be mandatory to conduct a Urine Pregnancy Test.
2. Upon the victim being found pregnant due to sexual assault, and in case the victim is major gives her consent and expresses her desire for conducting medical termination of pregnancy, the concerned investigating officer will ensure that on the same day, the victim will be produced before such Medical Board envisaged under Section 3 of MTP Act.
3. In case a minor victim of sexual assault is carrying a 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.
4. In case a minor victim is examined by such Board, an appropriate report will be placed before concerned authorities, so that if an order is being sought regarding termination of pregnancy from the Courts, the Court concerned does not lose any more time and is in a position to pass an order on the same expeditiously.
5. As per Section 3(2C) and 3(2D) of MTP Act, it is mandated that the State Government or Union Territory has to ensure that the Medical Boards are to be constituted in the hospitals. The State Government/Union Territory should ensure that such mandate of Section 3(2C) and 3(2D) of MTP Act, are complied with and such Boards are constituted in all Government Hospitals which have proper MTP Centres and it should be mandatory to have such Boards constituted beforehand.
“The Ministry of Health Affairs, Government of NCT of Delhi and Union Ministry for Health Affairs will share the compliance of the aforesaid guidelines/directions with this Court within two months”, the Court directed.
Accordingly, the Court issued necessary guidelines.
Cause Title- Minor R Thr Mother H v. State of NCT of Delhi & Anr. (Neutral Citation: 2023/DHC/000570)