The Bombay High Court refused to allow a 17-year-old girl to abort her child. The Aurangabad bench of the Bombay HC said that the child would be the result of a consensual relationship and would be born alive.
The bench of Justices Justices Ravindra Ghuge and Y G Khobragade passed an order noting that the minor would soon turn 18 and was in a consensual relationship with the boy since December last year.
The girl filed a petition in the Bombay High Court with the help of her mother, seeking to put an end to the pregnancy claiming that the situation falls under the provisions of the POCSO (Protection of Children from Sexual Offences) Act. The minor wanted permission to abort as she claimed to be a ‘child’ under the POCSO Act. According to the POCSO Act, a minor girl (one who is under the age of 18) is unable to give consent to sexual intercourse.
According to the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act, one needs to get permission from the court if they aim to terminate a pregnancy after 20 weeks if there is a possibility of the mother or the child getting hurt.
The petition stated that the mental health of the mother would be severely harmed if this pregnancy is allowed to proceed as the petitioner wants to continue their studies and become a doctor. The alleged crime was committed when the girl was 17 but turned 18 on 29th July.
The bench observed that the alleged victim had been in a consensual relationship with the accused since December 2022. The minor and the accused had been involved in physical relations multiple times in the course of their relationship and it was also noted that it was the girl who bought a pregnancy kit. She herself confirmed that she is carrying a child in February this year.
The court said that the facts depict that the alleged victim is not innocent and she has full maturity of understanding. It also said that if the girl wanted to abort the child, permission should have been sought soon after the pregnancy was confirmed.
Before passing this order, the court asked the medical board to run an examination of the girl. As the report showed no complications in the fetus and depicted the growth to be normal, the medical board stated that the child born, if the pregnancy is terminated at this stage, would not be able to survive independently but would still indicate signs of life.
Court says that the minor can put up the child for abortion
The bench said that if the court allows the petitioner to abort the child and the baby is born alive, it would result in an underdeveloped baby with definite chances of abnormalities. It said that there would be no deformity if the child is allowed to be delivered full-term, leading to better chances of adoption.
The bench added that seeing the physical relations between the girl and the accused, there is a need to consider the development of the child at this stage, both physically and mentally.
The high court said that it would be up to the girl if she wishes to put up the child for adoption later, and she would be at liberty to do the same. The court recommended the girl could be helped by a social organization that deals with pregnancies like these until the child is born.