New Delhi: In an order of far-reaching implications, the Supreme Court on Tuesday allowed a mentally-challenged orphan and rape victim to give birth to her child saying nature will give protection to them.
"We are not in favour of termination of pregnancy," a three-judge Bench headed by Chief Justice K G Balakrishnan said overturning a Punjab and Haryana High Court order directing the termination of pregnancy of the 19-year-old girl, who was raped at a Nari Niketan (Women's Home) run by the Chandigarh Administration.
Her mental age, according to psychiatrists, is said to be between seven and nine years with an IQ of children in that age group.
ETHICS DEBATE: SC allows mentally-challenged rape victim to give birth.
"We stay the operation of the High Court order," the Bench, also comprising Justices P Sathasivam and B S Chauhan said in a short order.
Taking note of the statement of psychiatrist and the gynaecologist that the woman has to be under constant supervision, the Bench said "if that is guaranteed, why terminate the pregnancy”.
The order is similar to a Bombay High Court judgment last year when a bench rejected a plea of a woman to abort her foetus, which was over 20 weeks, on the ground she feared complications to the baby.
During the hearing, the second report of the expert team was read out. It described the victim as mildly mentally challenged, unable to understand the concept of pregnancy and conception. She was raped by two security guards.
Bedi had argued that "doesn't she have the right to have her first known blood relation?"
The High Court had passed the direction on July 17 for termination of her pregnancy after considering two reports of an expert conmmittee involving doctors and psychiatrists.
The counsel for the victim said it was her fundamental right to give birth to a child and the administration was running away from its responsibility of providing care and support to her and her would be child.
"Child is not allowed to be born," she alleged and added "a woman has to come to the court with a plea to allow her to have her baby".
"This child will be the first blood relation of the orphan who was raped," the woman counsel said.
Senior advocate Colin Gonsalves, appearing for the social worker Veena, said an interaction with the victim revealed that she was not in a position to understand what was happening to her.
He said the reports of the experts suggested she had a spinal problem and other medical complications which may result in the birth of premature baby which would be fatal both for the mother and the child.