Inform Rape Survivors about their legal rights: SC

On Friday, the Supreme Court stated that rape survivors who become pregnant should be told about their legal rights. The Court issued notice to the Centre in a petition seeking setting up of medical boards in Union Territories to decide cases related to unwanted pregnancies over 20 weeks for termination.

We want to inform our readers that Section 3 of the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act prohibits the termination of pregnancies after twenty weeks.

A Bench headed by CJI SA Bobde stated that if a woman is pregnant, she must be informed of her legal rights. The Bench also took up the larger issue of setting Medical Boards in all states and UTs. The rape survivor’s lawyer decided no to seek the Court’s permission to terminate the pregnancy due to a Doctor’s medical opinion.

The Court directed the Centre to file its response within four weeks.

Apart from seeking permission to abort the pregnancy, another prayer was to set up Medical Boards in all UTs and states.

Counsel for the victim stated that even though now he is not seeking permission to abort, he wants the Court to set up Medical Boards as he saw the victim and her parents’ pain while drafting the petition.

The Bench told the Additional Solicitor General Aishwarya Bhati that if local boards are set up to check such cases, it would be beneficial. The Court also stated that it is one thing if rape cases are not reported to the State, but there has some mechanism to inform the victims about their rights.

The law officer stated that she would file an affidavit giving all the details.

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Lastly, Advocate Bhati submitted that the Medical Termination of Pregnancy (Amendment) Bill, 2020 has been passed by Lok Sabha and will now be discussed in the Rajya Sabha.

The Court made the aforesaid observations and directions when they heard a plea filed by a rape who her relative raped.

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