Supreme Court Orders Urgent Medical Examination in Minor's Pregnancy Termination Case

SC orders urgent medical exam for 14-yr-old seeking abortion due to assault. Bench dissatisfied with prior report, seeks fresh evaluation at Sion Hospital, Maharashtra. ASG Aishwarya Bhati assists. Decision due April 22.

In an unprecedented move, the Supreme Court of India, led by Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud, conducted an urgent hearing to address a harrowing case involving a 14-year-old minor seeking termination of a 28-week pregnancy resulting from sexual assault. The bench, which reconvened after regular court hours, directed a medical examination of the minor at Sion Hospital, Maharashtra, to be conducted promptly on April 20. The purpose of this examination is to evaluate both the physical and mental well-being of the minor in the context of her pregnancy, thereby aiding the court in its decision regarding the termination.

The case stems from a petition filed by the mother of the minor, challenging the Bombay High Court's decision dated April 4, 2024, which had refused to grant permission for the termination. It is alleged that the minor was subjected to sexual assault, leading to the registration of an FIR under sections 376 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and Section 4 of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act.

During the hearing, the Supreme Court expressed dissatisfaction with the medical report relied upon by the High Court, noting its failure to adequately assess the physical and mental condition of the minor victim, especially in the context of the alleged sexual assault. Additional Solicitor General Aishwarya Bhati appeared to assist the court in this matter.

"From the material placed on record, a striking feature emerges before this court is that prima facie, the medical report doesn't contain an evaluation of the physical and mental status of the minor particularly having regard to the background leading to pregnancy, including the alleged sexual assault," remarked the bench.

In light of these concerns, the bench issued directives to the State of Maharashtra to ensure the efficient transportation of both the petitioner and the minor daughter to Sion Hospital for the medical examination. Additionally, the court ordered the hospital to constitute a medical board to conduct a thorough evaluation of the minor's condition, specifically addressing whether the termination of pregnancy poses a risk to her life.

"Moreover, it is necessary for the Court to be apprised of whether the carrying of the pregnancy of the minor would impact the mental well-being of the minor who is barely 14 years old... the petitioners should be examined afresh by the medical board to be constituted by Sion Hospital, tomorrow (20 April)," the bench instructed.

The court further emphasized the urgency of the matter, requesting that the hospital's report be submitted to the court by 10:30 AM on April 22. The medical board is also tasked with providing an opinion on whether the termination can be safely performed at this stage of the pregnancy.

"We request the medical superintendent of the Sion Hospital to constitute a medical board for that purpose. We request the learned counsel for the State of Maharashtra to ensure that due arrangements are made for the transportation of the petitioner and daughter... The medical board shall also opine on whether a termination can be carried out at this stage without threat to the life of the minor child. List as the first item on board at 10:30 AM Monday," concluded the bench.