10-yr-old’s abortion: Felt liable, time for law to change, says Delhi lawyer who moved SC
A gold medallist in PG diploma in labour laws from the Indian Law Institute, Delhi,Srivastava has filed numerous public interest litigations (PILs) and done legal work pro bono (without fee) for the underprivilegedpunjab Updated: Jul 28, 2017 13:04 IST
As the Supreme Court hears a petition on allowing a 30-week (8-month) pregnant 10-year-old rape victim to abort on Friday, the filer of the plea, Delhi-based lawyer Alakh Alok Srivastava, 33, said he felt liable, as a member of the civil society, to attempt to save a life.
A chance reading of papers on a Chandigarh court refusing permission to abort a 10-year-old rape victim’s 8-month (30-week) pregnancy led to the petition. “Anyone would feel disturbed reading something like that. It was heart-wrenching,” Srivastava told HT over phone.
A gold medallist in PG diploma in labour laws from the Indian Law Institute, Delhi,Srivastava has filed numerous public interest litigations (PILs) and done legal work pro bono (without fee) for the underprivileged.
In his petition, Srivastava quotes the Sarmishtha Chakrabortty Vs Union of India and Ors, wherein the SC had — only on July 3 — allowed the medical termination of 27-week pregnancy.
“Many cases of MTP (Medical Termination of Pregnancy) Act have been brought to the SC wherein the apex court has granted relief by allowing termination of pregnancy. As a member of a society that couldn’t protect a 10-year-old, I felt liable,” he added. He claims many lawyers are not aware of the correct position of the law in such sensitive cases.
“The SC in a couple of judgments — one of them being The Chairman, Railway Board & Ors Vs Chandrima Das and Ors — has held that anyone can espouse the cause of a rape survivor or child rape survivors in any court of law and that the local courts won’t be questioned.”
On rehabilitation for minor rape victims
Srivastava feels there is a strong need for a permanent medical board to deal with such cases in each district in the country. “Two weeks have already passed since this case came to the public’s notice. To avoid putting the family under this undue strain, the judicial magistrate should have the option to approach the medical board rather reaching out to new experts or hospitals each time,” Srivatsava said.
He added the advancements in medical technology had made it possible for the government to intervene and amend the MTP Act so that the termination of pregnancy is allowed in certain cases, keeping the safety of minors in mind. “It is allowed in few countries so we should also look at such solutions. This case is a precedent,” he said.
He added he would pay to ensure that the best possible facilities were provided to the rape survivor at Chandigarh’s PGI, regardless of what the SC decided on Friday.
Who is the petitioner?
Born and brought up in Delhi, Alakh Alok Srivastava, 33, is a gold medalist in PG diploma in labour laws from the Indian Law Institute, Delhi, and did his LLB from Campus Law Centre, Delhi University. Before joining the Supreme Court in 2012, he worked as a law officer with the Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Limited (HPCL). He has also worked with the additional solicitor general of India in 2013-14 before starting independent practice.