The last few agonising weeks of Niketa and Haresh Mehta are more than over after the Bombay High Court on Monday dismissed their petition seeking abortion of Niketa’s 25-week old foetus stating that the petitioners had not shown any material to justify the termination of pregnancy.
The division bench of Justice RMS Khandeparkar and Justice Amjad Sayed rejected the petition filed by the couple and their doctor Nikhil Datar which also sought that the Medical Termination of Pregnancies (MTP) Act, 1971, be amended to allow termination of pregnancy after 20th week if it was found that the child may be born with deformity. The MTP Act prohibits terminating pregnancy after it is progressed beyond 20 weeks.
While doctor Datar waited with bated breath throughout the hearing and dictation of the judgment on Monday, the couple was nowhere to be seen.
The petition was filed after the physicians had diagnosed the unborn child with a congenital disorder. Niketa had found out in the 24th week of her pregnancy that the foetus had a congenital heart block. “It is a set back to me as a doctor since I had taken up this petition as a social cause. Over my so many years of career, I have come across so many such cases,” Dr Datar told HT after the judgment.
The first report submitted by the three-doctor committee of JJ Hospital had said that there are fair chances of the child being born with deformity.
Since no firm opinion was given by the committee, the HC had asked them to give a confirm opinion. The report submitted in the HC on Monday stated that there are “least chances that the child will be born with deformity.”
While the doctors across the city have felt disappointed over the judgment, the lawyers feel that killing a life, even if unborn, is not allowed in law. “In the present case where the mental ability of the child is not at risk and no doctor is willing to say that the child can’t survive at all, the court cannot allow to terminate the pregnancy,” said noted lawyer Mihir Desai.
Echoing his opinion, Joaquin Reis, a senior advocate said that our country doesn’t allow euthanasia or mercy killing then how can court grant permission to kill a 25-week old foetus.
The couple was not available for comment, however, doctor Datar said that they would first consult their lawyers before deciding to approach the Supreme Court.