Right to terminate pregnancy can’t be denied merely because gestation has continued beyond 20 weeks :Delhi HC

Right to terminate pregnancy can't be denied merely because gestation has continued beyond 20 weeks :Delhi HC

In a petition seeking to terminate pregnancy beyond 20 weeks,the Delhi High Court passed the judgement citing that right to terminate pregnancy cannot be denied merely because gestation has continued beyond 20 weeks.In the case of Priyanka Shukla vs.Union of India, the petitioner Priyanka Shukla who is in her 25th week of pregnancy filed a writ petition through her advocate Ms.Sneha Mukherjee before Delhi High Court with following prayers:

A. For a writ of mandamus or any other writ, order, directing the Respondents to allow the Petitioner to undergo Medical Termination of the Pregnancy.

B. For a writ of declaration or any other appropriate writ, order or direction quashing section 3(2)(b) of The , 1971 to the limited extent that it stipulates a ceiling of 20 weeks for an to be done under section 3, as ultra vires Article 14 and 21 of the Constitution of India;

C. For a writ of declaration or any other appropriate writ, order or direction quashing section 5(1) of the Act to the limited extent that it restricts abortions under section 5 to a restricted field where it is immediately necessary to save the life of the pregnant woman.

The petitioner is 27 years of age. She is, already, as noted herein above, in the 25th week of her pregnancy. The foetus being carried by her was diagnosed with severe oligohydromnios and bilateral multicystic dysplastic kidneys which were incompatible with life. She, in the circumstances, seeks to have the foetus aborted, but due to statutory provisions she is denied of terminating her pregnancy.

The bench comprising of Chief justice D N Patel and justice C.Harishankar said that in certain cases it is difficult to refuse the permission to undergo medical termination of pregnancy after observing the health condition of foetus being carried by the petitioner. The court cited the judgement of Supreme Court in case of Tapsya Umesh Pisal vs.Union of India and ors.,
Tapasya Umesh Pisal, the petitioner, who was 24 years of age approached the Supreme Court, under Article 32 of the Constitution of India, seeking permission to undergo medical termination of her pregnancy, which had progressed to 24 weeks, as her foetus had been diagnosed with tricuspid and pulmonary atresia, a cardiac anomaly. The Supreme Court observed that, except for the time period i.e. the duration for which the pregnancy had continued, the case would fall within Section 3(2)(b) of the MTP Act. In the circumstances, the Supreme Court held thus:

In these circumstances, it is difficult for us to refuse the permission to the petitioner to undergo medical termination of pregnancy. It is certain that the foetus if allowed to born, would have a limited life span with serious handicaps which cannot be avoided. It appears that the baby will certainly not grow into an adult.

The court opined that section 3(2)b should not be read in isolation. It should be read along with section 5 which relaxes the rigor of section 3(2)b in case where it is necessary to terminate pregnancy to save the life of pregnant woman.

Judgement of Delhi High Court:
Law, needles to say, cannot be construed in a manner incompatible with life.The court is convinced accordingly, the petitioner is permitted to have her pregnancy terminated, without any further delay.

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