Permission for Termination of the HIV Pregnancy @ 23-24 Weeks denied by Supreme Court

Case details : Courtesy

Judgment of Hon. Patna High Court.

Indu Devi V/s. State of Bihar (SLA C no. 14327/2017)

Facts in short : The judgment of Patna High Court reveals all the facts in details.

1. The petitioner ( „victim‟), 35 years of age, claiming to be a destitute, was rescued on 25.01.2017 by a Field Coordinator of Shanti Kutir‟, a Woman Rehabilitation Centre situated at Patliputra, Patna.
2. During routine tests, USG was conducted on 08.02.2017, it was found that the victim was carrying pregnancy of 13 weeks and 6 days and she was later on found to be HIV+ and that time she was 17 weeks pregnant. it was argued on her part that due to inaction of hospital authorities, the MTP could not be carried out prior to 20 weeks, the permitted period under MTP Act. Allegations of rape were made by the Petitioner at late stage and she could not reveal the identity.
3. As the Victim though desirous of terminating her pregnancy, could not prove her identity, the Writ Petition was filed before Hon. Patna High Court.
4.The Director, IGIMS, Patna was directed to constitute Multi Disciplinary Medical Board to give the report, and the committee, after examining the victim opined that it would be hazardous to the life of the victim if the MTP is done @ 24 weeks. The Medical Board has suggested in its report for continuation of pregnancy according to NACO guidelines. The Report further stated that there is likelihood that foetus may be HIV+ve. But definite diagnosis can only be made when the child attains the age of 18 months.
5. The Hon. Patna High Court rejected the permission to carryout MTP and thus the PEtitioner approached Hon. Apex Court.
6. The Apex Court considering the importance of “time”, directed Medical Board of AIIMS to give ti s report. THE AIIMS Board also opined that it would be risky to the life of both mother and the child if the MTP is done. Moreover she was advised to continue HAART Therapy to reduce the risks of HIV.
7. The Apex Court considering all the ordeal through which the victim, a destitute went, directed State of Bihar to provide all the medical facilities to the victim in addition to Rs.3 lakhs towards compensation for delay..

This case again emphasises to suitably amend the MTP Act, as its not possible for every victim or needy woman to approach the Apex Court of Land. e.g. It’s a matter of record that some anomalies of foetus can be found only after 20 weeks scan or the present case senario where the victim was subjected to forceful physical relations and a destitute. If in all the previous cases also, the opinion of Medical Board was taken, why not to make provisions for such board in the Act itself ?

Adv. Rohit Erande

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