The Madhya Pradesh High Court has directed that in all rape cases where the victim, whether minor or adult, is found to be pregnant, the concerned police officer and treating doctor must immediately inform the victim or her parents about her right to terminate the pregnancy under the provisions of the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act, 1971.

The Court observed that such advice is necessary to avoid last-minute requests for termination of pregnancy under the MTP Act and to save the victim from a lifetime of trauma.

The Court was hearing a Writ petition filed by the father of rape victim under Article 226 of the Constitution of India seeking the medical termination of his daughter's pregnancy.

The bench of Justice Subodh Abhyankar observed, “…to avoid such last minute request for termination of pregnancy under the MTP Act, and to save the victims of rape from life time of a trauma, it is directed that in future, in all the cases of rape, where it is found that the prosecutrix/victim, whether minor or not, is pregnant, she/her parents must be advised immediately by the officer of the concerned police station as also the treating doctor, about her right to get her pregnancy terminated under the provisions of Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act, 1971.”

Advocate Lucky Bijolia appeared for the Appellant.

Brief Facts-

While issuing the earlier order of terminating the pregnancy the Court noted the troubling delay in action. The victim who was abducted was recovered and found pregnant the same day. However, the Writ Petition was filed only after a month. The Court observed that neither the treating doctor nor the police informed the petitioner or the victim's relatives about the pregnancy or the option to terminate it under the law.

The Court found that the apathetic conduct adopted by the Investigating Officer and treating doctor was deplorable as according to the Court it was incumbent upon them to inform the responsible family member of the victim about the pregnancy and the provisions of MTP Act.

“It is a common knowledge that most of the rape cases take place in the remote areas where neither the woman nor her family members are aware of existence of the Act of 1971, and thus, it becomes the duty of the Investigating Officer as also the treating doctor to apprise such persons who are the victim of an offence of rape that they have a right to terminate the pregnancy of the victim/prosecutrix before 22 weeks.”, the Court said.

The Court further said that the non-disclosure of such information to the victim infringes upon her right to live with dignity as enshrined under Article 21 of the Constitution of India, and at the same time, it also defeats the very purpose for which the Act of 1971 was enacted.

The Court further directed that the information provided to the victim and her family members should also be specifically made by the Investigating Officer/treating doctor in writing.

The Court said that any non-compliance of the order shall be treated as contempt of the order passed by the Court.

Accordingly, the Court disposed of the petition.

Cause Title: Harish Devda v. State of Madhya Pradesh
Appellant: Adv. Lucky Bijolia
Respondent: Adv. Harshlata Soni and G.A. Geetanjali Chaurasia