Allahabad High Court Asserts Right To Terminate Pregnancy in Rape Cases


The Allahabad High Court has delivered a significant judgment, affirming that women cannot be compelled to bear the child of a man who sexually assaulted them. This ruling came during the hearing of a writ plea filed by a 12-year-old rape victim, who also suffers from hearing and speech impairment. She sought permission to terminate her 25-week pregnancy.

The bench, consisting of Justice Mahesh Chandra Tripathi and Justice Prashant Kumar, emphasized that in cases of sexual assault, denying a woman the right to opt for medical termination of pregnancy infringes upon her human right to live with dignity. The court stated, "Forcing a woman to give birth to the child of a man who has sexually assaulted her would result in unexplainable miseries."

Advocate Raghav Arora, representing the minor, explained the circumstances: "The minor was subjected to rape and was sexually assaulted multiple times by her neighbor. Due to her disability to speak and listen, she could not narrate her ordeal to anyone. Her mother, upon inquiry, learned about the assault through sign language. Consequently, an FIR was lodged against the accused for rape and offenses under the POCSO Act."

When the victim was medically examined on June 16, 2023, she was found to be 23 weeks pregnant. Subsequently, on June 27, the Medical Board opined that, since the pregnancy had exceeded 24 weeks, court permission was required for an abortion. Hence, the petition was filed.

While the law generally does not allow termination of pregnancies beyond 24 weeks, except in cases of substantial fetal abnormalities (as per Section 3(2B) of the MTP Act), the court invoked its extraordinary powers to consider the urgency of the matter. It requested the vice-chancellor of Aligarh Muslim University to form a five-member medical team to examine the petitioner. The team examined the minor on July 11; their report was submitted to the court on July 12.

This judgment by the Allahabad High Court sets a precedent for recognizing the rights and dignity of rape victims, particularly minors, in cases of unwanted pregnancies resulting from sexual assault.

Author: Anushka Taraniya

News Writer, MIT ADT University