The Gujarat High Court on Friday permitted a 17-year old girl to terminate her 19-week pregnancy even as the court, after perusing investigation records in the case, orally remarked that her parents should not pressure her to go for an abortion.
The court of Justice Samir Dave, in the order, also quoted a verse from ‘Skanda Purana’ to emphasise on the value mothers hold in the society. The verse from Skanda Purana, Chapter 6 103-104 notes that “there is no shade, shelter and protection like that of a mother, no life giver in this world like the mother.”
The observation was in the context of that the man the girl was in a relationship with which led to the pregnancy, opposed the termination of the pregnancy. The man, who now stands accused under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act, had submitted before the court that he is ready to marry the girl and to accept all responsibilities of the girl as also of the child to be born.
Justice Dave, in his order, went on to record, “…this Court would give weightage to the wish and desire of the victim, though she is residing with her parents. There is not much significance to the objection raised by the (accused man) in view of the fact that the relationship between the (man) and the victim as on today does not have any legal recognition and victim is minor….If the victim does not want to continue with her pregnancy then this Court cannot compel her to continue her pregnancy.”
Earlier, on September 6, while permitting a minor rape victim to undergo medical termination, who had allegedly been raped by her father, had taken to quoting from Hindu scripture Shri Durga Saptashati, saying that “there is no higher insult to a woman than trying to touch her dignity”.
The advocate representing the girl, seeking termination of pregnancy in a petition moved through her mother, submitted before the court of Justice Samir Dave that her pregnancy status “will not only affect her life but also affect the other girls of the family… affect the image of the family in the society…” This may result in love marriage when girls attain the age of majority, the girl’s advocate submitted on her behalf.
According to the girl’s parents, she had developed a physical relationship with the man aged around 22 years, unbeknownst to them. They were unaware of the pregnancy till they came across an image of a pregnancy kit in the girl’s cellphone. On August 24, an FIR was lodged at Dahegam police station based on a complaint filed by the parents against the man on charges under Protection of Children From Sexual Offences Act. The man is currently in judicial custody.
The advocate for the petitioner, Bhargav Mehta, told HC that a “mistake” has been committed and that as the girl is a first-year college student, the pregnancy will affect her education.
After perusing the probe documents of the police and magisterial court records – the statement that the girl has given under Section 164 of CrPC – Justice Dave orally remarked to the petitioner’s advocate: “You are pressuring your daughter? I have gone through the CrPC Section 164 statement. The mother of the applicant-victim (girl) is also aware of this pregnancy. Parents of the boy, they are also aware… parents found she is pregnant, immediately you brought the girl to a radiologist for sonography. After recognising the pregnancy, you went to the police station… You are not aware of the statements made before the police and magistrate by the girl, that is why you are advancing this type of argument. At present, I cannot show you the police statement or CrPC Section 164 statement.”
As the advocate said that permitting the pregnancy will “affect the image of the family in the society” and may result in love marriage, Justice Dave said, “ Assume that after the victim turns major… there are chances that she marries the accused. Then?”
The advocate told HC that the girl’s parents are not ready to accept her marriage with the accused. However, Justice Dave reminded that as a major, the parents would have little role to play (in her decision). He remarked, “After 18 (years of age) also? If she attains majority, what will you do if she gets married (with the accused)… Parents may accept or not accept. Parents are certainly lawful guardians but they should not pressurise the girl. It transpires from the police papers (that parents are pressuring), I feel.”
The court went on to permit the girl to terminate her pregnancy.