Girls used to deliver child before 17: Gujarat HC on abortion plea of minor rape-survivor

Gujarat HC.

Gandhinagar: The Gujarat High Court said that it was normal for girls in the past to get married at the age of 14 or 15 years and deliver a child before they turn 17.

Justice Samir Dave of the HC made the observation on Wednesday while hearing a plea of a minor rape survivor seeking permission to terminate her seven-month pregnancy.

Citing the ancient Sanskrit legal text Manusmriti, Justice Dave said that earlier 14-15 was the maximum age for getting married and indicated that he might not allow the petition if both the girl and fetus were healthy. He made the remark orally.

Justice Dave said there was anxiety because “we are living in the 21st century”. “Ask your mother or great-grandmother. Fourteen-fifteen was the maximum age (for marriage), and girls used to give birth to their first child before turning 17. And girls get mature before boys…Though you may not read, but you should read Manusmriti once,” he added, PTI reported.

The petition was filed by the father of the 16-year-old girl who was carrying a seven-month-old fetus, seeking permission for abortion.

The HC directed the Rajkot Civil Hospital to conduct a medical examination of the minor girl by a panel of doctors to ascertain if the medical termination of pregnancy was advisable.

The court said that an abortion may not be granted if the fetus and the rape survivor were not in good condition. It also asked the lawyer appearing for the father of the minor to start looking for adoption options.

“The court can consider (allowing abortion) if any serious ailments are found in the fetus or the girl. But if both are normal, it will be very difficult for the court to pass such an order,” the judge said.

The court fixed June 15 as the next date of the hearing. It also directed the panel of doctors from the hospital to carry out the ossification test of the rape survivor and get her examined by the psychiatrist to ascertain her mental condition and submit the report before the next hearing. The court will decide whether to allow medical termination after the report.

“I will not give permission if both are found healthy. The weight of the foetus is also good…What will you do if the girl gives birth and the child lives? Who will take care of that child? I will also inquire if there are government schemes for such children. You should also check if someone can adopt that child,” said the judge.

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