The Madhya Pradesh High Court has held a father-daughter duo guilty of obtaining an abortion order by filing a false rape case and hiding the identity of the biological father.

The Court held that the duo was guilty for not appearing before the Court and also for changing their version with an oblique motive.

Justice Gurpal Singh Ahluwalia expressed his concern at the sorry state of affairs by holding that the contemnors have misused the lawful authority of the Court in order to get rid of unwarranted pregnancy due to a voluntary relationship with a relative and have adopted a very innovative method for the same.

Holding that it is very high time to put a check on this type of tendency, the Court in this context also observed that the purpose of the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act, 1971 is to provide for the termination of certain pregnancies by registered medical practitioners.

The Court also held that only specific pregnancies are to be terminated by licensed medical professionals and further held –

"The primary objectives of the Act are also to reduce the death rate of women from unsafe and illegal abortions and to optimize the maternal health of Indian women. Only after this legislation, women are entitled to have safe abortions, but only under specific circumstances."

However, the Bench noted that the lawful authority of the High Court cannot be permitted to be misused to terminate the unwarranted pregnancy by hiding the true identity of the biological father of the child.

Furthermore, the Court referred to Section 3 of the MTP Act which deals with a situation under which the pregnancy can be terminated by a medical practitioner and thus observed –

"Thus, the purpose of this Act is to save the life of a pregnant woman or of grave injury to her physical or mental health, or where there is substantial risk that if the child were born, it would suffer from any serious physical or mental abnormality. However, the provisions of this Act cannot be used for killing an unborn baby in order to hide the identity of the biological father of the child or to by-pass any notice issued by the investigating officer."

In this case, Writ Petition was initially filed by the father 'A' of the prosecutrix 'X' for medical termination of her pregnancy, as not only she was a minor but was allegedly subjected to Rape. An FIR was also registered for the same.

After considering the fact that the Prosecutrix was a minor as well as the report of the Medical Board, Medical Termination of Pregnancy was permitted and the Petition was allowed.

Thereafter, the accused approached the Court for the grant of bail on the ground that the prosecutrix, her father, and brother have been examined and they have turned hostile they claimed that the Prosecutrix was major and nothing had happened to her and no petition for medical termination of pregnancy was ever filed and the prosecutrix never went for an abortion. However, the bail application was rejected.

The prosecutrix and her father did not appear before the Court despite service of notice, hence, bailable warrants of arrest were issued against them twice due to non-appearance.

After the receipt of the DNA test report, the accused was not found to be the biological father of the foetus, whereas the prosecutrix was found to be the biological mother of the foetus. An order for further investigation was passed.

It was found thereafter, that the prosecutrix had relations with her cousin and it was also found that the cousin was the biological father of the foetus. Accordingly, FIR was registered against him under the provisions of the IPC and POCSO Act and he was arrested.

Role of Prosecutrix and her father

First Contempt

The issue dealt with by the Court was by obtaining an order of Medical Termination of Pregnancy on the basis of false averments, whether the prosecutrix "X" and her father "A" have committed Contempt of Court or not.

The Court after referring to the facts of the case noted that both the father and the daughter suppressed material facts right from the beginning with a solitary intention to avoid criminal liability for killing an unborn child, thus the duo was liable for committing the offence under Section 201, 315, 316 of IPC also.

Further, the Bench also observed-

"Thus, the conduct of the contemnors namely the prosecutrix and her father has shaken the very purpose of Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act, 1971 and this has great impact on the justice delivery system and has also lowered down the dignity of the Court. If the prosecutrix and her father are allowed to go scotfree, then it would encourage others also to indulge in such type of activities. Therefore, the prosecutrix "X" and her father "A" are held guilty of committing Contempt of Court."

Second Contempt

Whether the prosecutrix "X," her father "A," her brother "B" have committed another contempt by flouting an order dated May 5, 2022 and by making a false statement before this Court.

The Court noted that the mis-adventurous act of the prosecutrix "X" and her brother "B" in violating/flouting the order dated May 5, 2022, in the given facts and circumstances of the case, is a clear example of gross contempt of Court.

The Bench further went on to add, "In the present case, the prosecutrix "X", her father "A" and her brother "B" have changed their version from time to time with an oblique motive. Further, they did not hesitate in alleging against the Trial Court as well as the Local Counsels."

Thus, the Court held –

"Accordingly, the father of the prosecutrix "A" is held guilty of committing second Contempt of this Court, for regularly changing his version and the prosecutrix "X" and her brother "B" are held guilty of committing of second Contempt of Court by not appearing before the Trial Court inspite of clear direction by order dated 5-5-2022. Accordingly, they are held guilty of committing Contempt of Court by flouting order dated 5-5-2022 and by changing their version with an oblique motive."

The Court accordingly listed the matter on November 7, 2022, for hearing on the question of sentence to be passed against the prosecutrix, her father, and her brother.

Cause Title – Suo Matter in the matter of the State of M.P. v. Father of Prosecutrix "A" and Ors.

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