After 14-year-old says she wants to carry pregnancy to term, Delhi High Court places her in children’s home

After a minor and her guardian refused consent to terminate her late-stage pregnancy, the high court directed her to reside at a children’s home in Delhi to ensure her care and safe delivery. During the proceedings, the minor also submitted that she wishes to marry the impregnator, who has been booked under charges relating to rape and aggravated penetrative assault on a minor.

 


 

AFTER a 14-year-old pregnant minor and her guardian refused to give consent for the termination of her pregnancy, the Delhi High Court has directed the minor to be placed in a children’s home, to ensure proper medical care.

Justice Anup Jairam Bhambhani of the high court was in the process of hearing a plea moved by the minor through her 22-year-old brother, who is also her designated guardian, submitting that she wishes to carry the pregnancy to full term.

The minor is currently 26–27 weeks pregnant, the court was told by a medical board constituted for the purpose. The Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act, 1971 (MTP) allows the termination of late-stage pregnancy between 20–24 weeks in certain cases, depending on the opinion given by at least two medical practitioners. Termination of pregnancy beyond that stage is decided by courts on a case-to-case basis.

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The pregnancy was stated to have resulted from physical relations between the minor and an adult male. The said male is facing charges under Section 6 (Aggravated penetrative assault) of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012 (POCSO) in addition to those under Section 366A (Procuration of minor girl) and Section 376(2)(n) (Committing rape repeatedly on the same woman) of the Indian Penal Code Act, 1860 (IPC).

In the course of the proceedings, a desire was expressed by the minor to marry the accused male. The high court was urged to summon the accused to ascertain his stand, but the plea was refused stating that the court “is not inclined to enlarge the scope of the petition”.

The minor had earlier approached the high court seeking a direction to constitute a medical board for the evaluation of her pregnancy. Pursuant to the court’s directions, she was produced before the medical board at the Ram Manohar Lohia Hospital, New Delhi.

The medical board report recorded that as per the physical examination and ultrasound report, the pregnancy is at 26–27 weeks of gestation. It further stated that the minor was counselled regarding the medical implications of a second trimester termination of pregnancy including the possibility of hysterectomy, a surgical procedure to remove all or part of the uterus.

The minor had communicated to the medical board her wish to continue with the pregnancy till term and thereafter give the child so delivered for adoption. Her guardian had supported her changed stance on the matter.

Also read: Kerala High Court allows medical termination of pregnancy of 10-year old rape victim

Under Section 3 of the MTP Act, if a female has not attained the age of eighteen years, her pregnancy cannot be terminated without the consent of her guardian in writing.

Facing such a circumstance, the medical board had recorded that the issue of feasibility and advisability of medical termination does not arise.

On May 31, the Child Welfare Committee, Shahdara and North East district, Delhi had suggested that the minor be placed in the ‘home for pregnant and lactating mothers’ at the children’s home for Girls-IV, Nirmal Chayya, Delhi to ensure proper antenatal care to the child and proper assistance for a safe delivery.

A children’s home is an institution under the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015, (JJ Act), for the placement of children in need of care and protection during the pendency of proceedings before the Child Welfare Committee (CWC), or even after disposal of their case, if the committee directs so. Section 50 of the JJ Act provides for establishment of a children’s home in every district or group of districts.

Also read: Delhi High Court permits 16-year-old rape victim to terminate her pregnancy

A children’s home may be established or maintained by the state government itself or through voluntary or a non-governmental organisation. All such homes must be registered under the JJ Act. The purpose of these homes is to provide for care, treatment, education, training, development and rehabilitation of children placed therein.

Click here to read the Delhi High Court’s order in the case of Minor K Through Brother D versus State And Anr W.P. (CRL) 1653/2023