The Delhi High Court on Monday permitted a 16-year-old rape victim to terminate her 26-week pregnancy after an interaction with the minor and her family regarding the risks associated with the procedure at such an advanced stage. While allowing the abortion, the high court also said the doctors would have the discretion to cancel the medical termination of the pregnancy if during the procedure there is any risk to the girl's life.
Justice Anu Malhotra also directed that the foetus be preserved by the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) here for the purpose of DNA testing for effective adjudication of the criminal trial in the rape case. The court passed the order after a private virtual hearing with the victim and her mother who were insistent on going ahead with the abortion despite a medical board's report stating that there was a likelihood of complications and that the foetus may survive despite the termination of pregnancy.
The court had on January 14 asked a medical board of the Lok Nayak Jai Prakash Narayan Hospital to examine the victim and determine the feasibility of terminating her pregnancy. Advocate Vrinda Grover, appearing for the victim, told the court that according to the psychiatric evaluation of the girl by the board, she has suffered mental trauma and carrying the pregnancy to term would cause further mental trauma to her.
Grover also told the court that the victim and her family were insisting on terminating the pregnancy. She also told the court that with advances in science and technology, abortion at such an advanced stage of pregnancy was feasible.
According to the plea moved by the victim's mother, she lodged a police complaint after she found out that her daughter was pregnant. The police lodged a zero FIR under Section 376 (rape) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and Section 6 of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act. The maximum sentence under Section 376 of the IPC is life imprisonment.
Section 6 of the POCSO Act provides for punishment for aggravated penetrative sexual assault. Under this provision, the minimum sentence awarded is 20 years or life imprisonment for the remainder of natural life and the maximum is death penalty. After lodging the zero FIR, the police had sent the girl for a medical examination. After the medical examination, the mother was told that her daughter was around 24 weeks pregnant, the petition had said.