Bombay high court: Police need guidelines on handling rescued pregnant minors
The court made the comment when it was hearing a petition filed by a 14-year-old rape survivor seeking permission to terminate her 24-week-long pregnancymumbai Updated: Apr 10, 2018 11:40 IST
The Bombay high court on Monday expressed the need for guidelines instructing police as to what they should do on rescuing pregnant minor girls.
“There must be some instructions to the police as to what they should do, if they rescue some minor girl and her medical examination reveals she is pregnant,” said the bench of justice Naresh Patil and justice Anuja Prabhudessai. It was hearing a petition filed by a 14-year-old rape survivor from Kalyan seeking permission to terminate her 24-week-long pregnancy.
The high court made the comment after advocate Deepa Chavan, appointed as amicus curiae, pointed out that precious time was lost in the case of the minor, who was rescued from Janpur in Uttar Pradesh and brought back to Kalyan on March 17, 2018. On the same day the girl was medically examined at Central Hospital in Ulhasnagar and found to be pregnant, but the police did not convey the fact to anyone — not even her family members.
“Nobody appears to be aware of the existence of the Medical Termination of the Pregnancy (MTP) Act, 1971 and the 20-week embargo on termination of pregnancies,” Chavan said, urging the court to direct the state government to issue appropriate instructions to all police stations. “It was only after some workers of NGO Bachpan Bachao Andolan came to know about the unwanted pregnancy that things started moving, but by then precious time was already lost,” she added.
The judges agreed with the necessity of having proper instructions in place, as they noticed the loss of time after March 17 resulted in advancement of the pregnancy and thus increased risk to the life of the 14-year-old in terminating her pregnancy. “Precious lives can be saved by saving time in taking appropriate decisions in such cases, if police were appropriately instructed as to what they should do if they happen to rescue a pregnant minor,” said the bench.
The court has now directed an assistant government pleader to take instructions in a week as to whether any instructions have been issued by any department as regards pregnant minors. It said it will itself frame appropriate guidelines for the police to follow in such cases and the state government has not issued any instructions to the police.
The court also permitted the 14-year-old to get her unwanted pregnancy medically terminated at JJ hospital in Mumbai, after noticing that a medical board of the state-run hospital has recommended termination of pregnancy, as its continuation would pose risk to the life of the minor.
According to the FIR lodged with Hill Line police station at Ulhasnagar, in July 2017, the girl was enticed away by a young labourer, also residing at Kalyan. Police succeeded in tracing the minor to Janpur on March 15 and two days later brought her back to Uhasnagar. Charges of rape were added to the kidnapping case, after the girl was found pregnant by doctors.