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Orissa HC turns down a gang-rape survivor's plea to end a 26-week-old pregnancy

Legal Correspondent: Sarthak Dixit

November 19, 2021:The Orissa High Court criticised a lower court's ruling denying the survivor's appeal to terminate her unwanted pregnancy in a gang rape case. According to the HC, this is something that will have a significant impact on her personality and womanhood.

It was noted that the lower court, where the victim first sought termination of her unwanted pregnancy, should have granted her request, putting it ahead of the unborn child's right to life.

The victim's request for permission to terminate her over 26-week pregnancy was denied by the bench of Justice S.K. Panigrahi, who noted that the petitioner's pregnancy could not be terminated under the provisions of the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act, 1971.

The Court, quoting political philosopher William Godwin and emphasising that "justice is the sum of all moral responsibility," ordered the State Government to pay a 20-year-old gang-rape victim who became pregnant as a result of the offence perpetrated against her ten lakh as compensation. The state government was also ordered to pay the 22-year-old lady a value of 3 lakh if she gave birth to a male child and a sum of 5 lakh if she gave birth to a female child.

"The Jagatsinghpur district government shall be responsible for all transportation, medical, and medicinal expenses, including, if necessary, accommodation of the victim and her mother during treatment," said justice Biswanath Rath.

The state government will be responsible for the entire education of the unborn child, according to the court. The woman, who is also mentally challenged, lives in a village in Jagatsinghpur's Kujanga police station area. She was raped by a local, and her family only learned about it on August 13, when she filed a police report.

The girl, from a hamlet in Cuttack district, was forcibly taken to a school in April this year, when the accused raped her and threatened to murder her if she told anybody, including her family or the police. The victim became pregnant after the incident.

According to the HC, the girl and her father went to the police station to terminate the pregnancy, but were told to go to the appropriate court because the charge sheet had already been filed. They may have aided the victim in obtaining prompt legal advice and possibly stopped her from having to undergo the forced birth that is placed on her owing to medicolegal obligations.


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