The Madurai bench of the Madras High Court on Tuesday dismissed a petition filed by the father of a teenage girl seeking termination of her pregnancy as she was allegedly "kidnapped, raped and made pregnant".
Dismissing the plea, Justice S. Vimala said under the IPC, termination of pregnancy was an offence. Besides, in this case, the girl had not given her consent and in fact, wanted to carry the foetus as she had later married the accused.
When the consent of the girl could not be dispensed with while aborting pregnancy, the court had no option but decline permission to terminate it, she said.
Besides, the right to motherhood was for empowerment of women. Thus, the foetus could not be ordered to be aborted against the wishes of the girl, the judge ruled.
The girl, a minor at the time of the crime in February, is a major now and has married the boy accused of raping her.
The judge also said it was appropriate that there should be teams of experts comprising doctors, psychologists, psychiatrists, counsellors in schools and colleges to guide teenagers. "As teenage pregnancy has many problems associated with it, there is a need to create awareness about the same."
Referring to the contention of the petitioner that under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act, the consent of the girl (for sex) was immaterial till the age of 18, the judge said there were some contradictions between certain provisions of the Act and other statutes such as the Child Marriage Act and the Indian Penal Code (IPC).
While as per the IPC, sex with wife (aged 15-18) would not amount to rape, the POCSO does not provide for any such exemption.
Such contradictions touched upon the Constitutional validity of the POCSO Act but it could only be decided by a division bench, the judge said, adding, "If deemed appropriate, the Chief Justice could consider posting this matter before a division bench."
The petitioner had submitted that his minor daughter was kidnapped on February 13 and rescued subsequently and the accused was arrested. Later, during medical examination, the girl was found to be pregnant.
Contending that his daughter became pregnant on account of "rape", he had sought termination of her pregnancy.
However, during the hearing of the petition, the girl and the boy appeared in the court and the former said the pregnancy was "not out of coercion" and there should be no order for abortion.
Noting that the girl and the boy were married now, the judge said when the marriage was not shown to be void, the plea of the petitioner to terminate her daughter's pregnancy without her consent could not be entertained.