The Supreme Court on Thursday directed the Bihar government to pay Rs 10 lakh compensation to a destitute woman who was allegedly raped and not allowed to abort her 26-week pregnancy after a medical board’s opinion.
A bench headed by Justice Dipak Misra said it has passed a slew of directions and set aside the Patna High Court order by which it had not allowed the woman to terminate her pregnancy as she had crossed the legal embargo of 20 weeks under the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act, 1971.
The victim’s counsel had earlier told the apex court that the woman deserved compensation from the Bihar Government as she had gone to the Patna Medical College and Hospital (PMCH) to get her pregnancy terminated when she was in the 17th week of pregnancy.
The court was dealing with the case of a 35-year-old HIV-positive destitute woman, who was allegedly raped on the streets of Patna and is now 26 weeks pregnant.
The medical board of AIIMS, which was asked by the apex court to examine the woman, had earlier given its report saying she was in an advanced stage of pregnancy.
The apex 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.
In her plea, the woman had said she was a destitute and had come to know about her pregnancy for the first time around the 13th week, and that too after she was rescued by Shanti Kutir, a women’s rehabilitation centre, and taken a pregnancy test on January 26.
The woman had said she had expressed her desire to get her pregnancy terminated on March 4 to a research officer of Koshish, a Field Action Project of Tata Institute of Social Sciences, with whom she was in contact.
However, it was only after she revealed to the superintendent of the shelter home that the pregnancy was the outcome of rape, she made attempts to have it terminated at the hospital on March 14.
According to the plea, the hospital refused to admit the woman owing to lack of identity proof.