The Supreme Court today passed orders to enable the adoption of the unborn child of a 20- year-old student. She was carrying an unwanted pregnancy of 29 weeks and it culminated in a plea for abortion of the child.
Supreme Court on the Student’s abortion
A Bench led by the Chief Justice of India, DY Chandrachud passed an order, that permitted the adoption of the to-be-born child, by a couple whose names were suggested by the Solicitor General, and who are registered with the Central Adoption Resource Authority (CARA)
Further, the Supreme Court also ordered the (AIIMS) All India Institute of Medical Sciences to provide full medical treatment to the pregnant student, maintaining her health and her well-being.
The order passed invoking the inherent jurisdiction of the Supreme Court under Article 142 of the Indian Constitution, to do complete justice to the ones seeking help.
The petitioner, who was a 20-year-old female student had initially approached the Supreme Court to terminate her pregnancy.
However, in a previous hearing, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta had raised concern that permitting an abortion of a 29-week child may amount to the killing of the child. Expressing similar concerns, CJI Chandrachud orally observed that “AIIMS is bluntly saying that after the child is delivered if the court says, ‘we will not put the child in neonatal care.’ That means what- it is 8 months now and this is not a normal abortion per se.”
The petitioner’s counsel submitted the following as a reply,
“I discussed the report with the petitioner. She wants the abortion otherwise she says her career would be ruined and what will happen to her life and dignity?”
This led the Court to provide a solution. The Court requested the Additional Solicitor General Aishwarya Bhati to have a word with the student, guiding and counseling her on her options.
The Solicitor General Mehta further informed the Court about the identification of the family who was willing to adopt the child, as it is born.
Mehta submitted that “CARA has a process who decides which family can adopt. But there is a couple who is ready and willing to adopt the child and the child will get an excellent upbringing. I am not disclosing their names. The prospective parents have already registered with CARA.”
The Court furthermore provided suggestions that it could direct AIIMS to take all the necessary steps to ensure the safe birth of the child. The Court was provided with the information that the child is due for delivery around March 1.
The counsel of the student, in the meantime, drew the Court’s attention to the toll the pregnancy had taken on her.
The counsel submitted that “She has completely broken down. She has left the hostel and pregnancy is visible now. She is mentally broken down…Her life is at stake.”
This encouraged the Additional Solicitor General Bhati to offer her own home as a shelter to the student.
ASG Aishwarya Bhati said that “I will bring her to my own home if needed.”
The Court asked SG Mehta and ASG Bhati to come to the Court’s chamber, for further discussion of the issue, in private, as this issue was a sensitive one.
Following the discussion, the Court passed an order to enable the adoption of the child and the medical care of the petitioner at AIIMS.
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