The court was hearing the case of a 35-year-old HIV-positive woman, who was raped in Patna
The Supreme Court will tomorrow deliberate on the issue of whether family members of a rape survivor be asked to give consent for termination of her pregnancy or should it be left to her alone. This is in relation to a case of a 35-year-old HIV-positive woman, who was raped on the streets of Patna and is presently 26 weeks pregnant.
The top court today wanted to know why the Patna High Court and Patna Medical College and Hospital (PMCH) had sought the consent of her father and husband when the survivor herself was against going ahead with the pregnancy keeping in mind that there was no family support to her. She was deserted by the husband, while her parents had refused to accept her, alleging that she was unstable.
As the matter came up for hearing, a bench comprising Justices Dipak Misra and AM Khanwilkar was informed about these facts by her counsel.
The submission evoked sharp reaction from the bench which said "in the unfortunate circumstance, when a woman is raped and she is pregnant, her dignity to life is affected."
"How can her brother, father or husband be asked to give a consent? It is she who will mother the child," the bench said, while posting the matter for hearing tomorrow.
The issue arose after survivor's advocate Vrinda Grover told the bench that the woman deserved compensation from the Bihar government as she had gone to PMCH for terminating her pregnancy when she was in her 17th week.
"She had said that she would terminate her pregnancy. The hospital asked for the consent of the father which he gave, though it was not required under the law," she said.
To this, the bench asked Additional Solicitors-General Tushar Mehta and PS Narsimha, "how is the father's consent required?"
Mr Mehta said it was not required in this case. Ms Grover also said when the woman had approached the High Court, it had also asked her father and husband for consent. Due to paucity of time, the bench said it would hear the matter tomorrow.
Meanwhile, the medical board of AIIMS, which was asked by the top court to examine the woman, gave its report and said that she was in her advanced stage of pregnancy.
The top court had earlier said it would not go into the orders of the High Court which had held that the medical board's report has stated that it would be unsafe for the life of the petitioner and there was a compelling responsibility of the state to keep the child alive.
The High Court had said the woman's pregnancy had crossed the legal embargo of 20 weeks under the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act, 1971.