The Gujarat High Court has granted permission for an 11-year-old girl, who was raped by her own father, to undergo a medical termination of her 26-week-old pregnancy, as reported by Bar and Bench.
While approving the victim's plea for abortion, Justice Samir Dave, a single judge, referred to the Hindu religious text Durga Saptashati, also known as Devi Mahatmya, to emphasise the importance of respecting women.
The court believes that studying the history of a civilisation's treatment of women is one of the best ways to understand its essence.
Archaeological excavations of ancient India have revealed evidence of the worship of goddesses, as noted by the single-judge.
One of the earliest complete manuscripts from the Hindu traditions is Durga Saptashati. This text describes the reverence and worship of the feminine aspect of god, according to the court.
The single-judge noted that Durga Saptashati is believed to be a culmination of centuries of Indian ideas about the divine feminine. It also serves as a foundation for literature and spirituality focused on feminine transcendence in the following centuries.
The bench referred to a verse in the text and provided its meaning in Hindi. The verse emphasises that all women in the world are idols of the goddess.
It highlights that women possess the power to do whatever they desire, including overcoming great challenges and accomplishing difficult tasks. The verse encourages women to recognise their own strength.
The court further stated that touching a woman without her permission is a grave insult to her dignity.
"There is no higher insult to a woman than trying to touch her dignity. In this case, it is very shocking and painful that the victim who is a 11 years and 9 months old girl child, has been subjected to a heinous crime by none else but her own father," Justice Dave said.
Based on these observations, the court has granted permission for the survivor to undergo a medical termination of pregnancy.
Taking into account the young age of the survivor and the immense mental and physical suffering she has endured, the bench has ordered the state to provide a compensation of Rs 2.5 lakh within two months.
Previously, a medical board was appointed by the bench to examine the foetus and assess the survivor's mental health.
According to the medical board, there are no general anomalies or deformities in the foetus. However, they did find that the minor girl has clinically average intelligence and is experiencing stress due to an unwanted catastrophic event and pregnancy.
The court noted that the continuation of the pregnancy would be stressful and embarrassing for the girl's mother and their family, and it would also impact the patient's mental health.
The mother has expressed her desire for her daughter to have an abortion, and it is recommended that the girl receives ongoing care from mental health professionals.
Due to the girl's young age, although her pregnancy is uncomplicated, there is a higher risk of future complications compared to usual cases, as stated by the court.
Therefore, the plea for abortion has been granted.
This is not the first time that Justice Dave has referred to a religious text when dealing with a rape survivor's plea to terminate her 'unwanted' pregnancy.
Previously, on 9 June, Justice Dave cited Manusmriti to highlight how girls in the past were married off between the ages of 14 and 16 and would have typically given birth to at least one child by the age of 17.
The judge faced criticism for his reference during the hearing of the rape victim's plea. However, he defended himself by invoking the Bhagavad Gita and stating that a judge should be like a Stithaprajna, meaning one who disregards both criticism and praise.
Advocate Poonam M Maheta represented the rape survivor in court.
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