Teen who ‘eloped’ with adult files plea to end 3-month pregnancy
The two had allegedly got “married” (which is not recognised by law since she is below 18 years of age) after they fled from Delhi to West Bengal.delhi Updated: Mar 29, 2018 17:39 IST
The Delhi high court has asked for a medical board to examine if it is safe for a pregnant 15-year-old girl, who had allegedly eloped with a 19-year-old man last October, to abort a three-month-old foetus.
The man has been arrested and booked for kidnapping and under relevant sections of the Prevention of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act because the girl is a minor. The court was hearing a habeas corpus plea filed by the boy’s elder brother, who alleged that his family was being harassed by the police.
The girl told the court during a hearing on March 22 that she was pregnant and wanted an abortion. A bench of Justice S Muralidhar and Justice IS Mehta asked Safdarjang Hospital to ascertain if the procedure would be safe for her. Under the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act, it is legal in India to abort a pregnancy till 20 weeks. “We direct the Medical Superintendent (MS) of Safdarjung Hospital, New Delhi to immediately constitute a Medical Board to determine the stage of pregnancy,” the court said.
“The MS will ascertain her willingness to have the pregnancy terminated and most importantly whether, in terms of the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act, it is safe for her and advisable medically for her pregnancy to be terminated,” it added.
The petitioner’s counsel Kamlesh Kumar Mishra argued that the man was being punished unfairly. “When two adolescents decide to get married and stay together, should they be punished for that? When the law can be amended for juveniles to be treated as adults when they commit any crime, should an adolescent, who decides to marry, be not treated as adult”.
The two had allegedly got “married” (which is not recognised by law since she is below 18 years of age) after they fled from Delhi to West Bengal.
Rahul Mehra, the counsel for the state in the case, said that the girl was a minor and her will in allegedly eloping with a man did not matter. He said that if the girl was willing to abort the fetus, the law should take its course.
The girl, a Class X student, had written to the Delhi Police commissioner on February 21 giving reasons why she had run away. She wrote that a neighbour was routinely harassing her and that when she complained to her parents, they hit her instead of confronting the neighbour.
She further wrote that on October 7, 2017, while she was alone at her house, the neighbour attempted to rape her, following which she fled with her friend to West Bengal, got “married” at a temple in Kolkata, and returned to Delhi in February on the local police’s advice.
When the man and the girl were produced in the high court, she refused to return to her parents and was sent to a shelter home.
Later, the parents moved an application seeking her custody, which was granted on March 22, the day it was revealed that she was three months pregnant.
“It is made clear that if, in the opinion of the Medical Board, there should be no delay in the termination of the pregnancy and they find it safe to proceed to do so with the consent of the girl, then all arrangements should be made forthwith for that purpose without awaiting further directions from the Court,” the bench said.