The Gujarat High Court while referring Manusmriti in a plea filed by a rape victim seeking medical termination of pregnancy has said that earlier it was normal for the girls to marry at a young age and deliver the child before they turned seventeen years old.

A Single Bench of Justice Samir J. Dave observed, “Ask your mother or great-grandmother. Fourteen-fifteen was the maximum age (for marriage), and girls used to give birth to their first child before turning 17. And girls get mature before boys ... Though you may not read, but you should read Manusmriti once.”

The Bench said that it would not allow the victim’s plea if it is found that both the girl and her foetus are healthy.

Advocate Sikander Saiyed appeared on behalf of the applicant i.e., the victim while APP J.K. Shah appeared on behalf of the respondent i.e., the State.

In this case, the father of the minor victim approached the court for the purpose of obtaining permission for the medical termination of her pregnancy. The victim was around 16 years and 11 months old and was carrying a seven-month-old foetus.

The pregnancy of the victim had already crossed the limit of 24 weeks up to which its termination is allowed under the law without any permission from the court. Hence, the family of the victim was concerned about the same because of her young age.

The High Court after hearing the arguments of the counsel directed, “Considering the facts and circumstances of the case, the Medical Superintendent, Civil Hospital, Rajkot is directed to conduct medical examination of the applicant herein, original victim, through the Panel of Doctors of the Civil Hospital on urgent basis. Further, the Panel of Doctors shall carry out Ossification Test of the applicant herein and shall also get the applicant herein examined by the Psychiatrist of the Civil Hospital to ascertain her mental condition.”

The Court further directed that after conducting the said tests, the reports shall be prepared and submitted to it on the next date of hearing.

“In view of the peculiar facts of the case, the Medical Superintendent, Civil Hospital, Rajkot is directed to submit medical opinion of the Panel of Doctors as to whether (i) it is advisable to perform the procedure of Medical Termination of Pregnancy over the applicant herein and (ii) the medical condition of the foetus, if, ultimately, the Court orders Medical Termination of Pregnancy of the applicant herein”, said the Court.

Accordingly, the Court listed the matter for the next hearing on June 15, 2023.

Cause Title- XYZ v. State of Gujarat

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