Reported By: Salil Tiwari
Last Updated: June 10, 2023, 00:16 IST
Advising the counsel for a minor rape survivor to read the Manusmriti, the Gujarat High Court on Thursday observed that earlier it was normal for girls aged 14 to 15 to get married and become mothers before they turned 17.
While dealing with a plea for abortion moved by the father of a 16-year-old rape survivor, who was seven months’ pregnant, the single judge bench of Justice Samir J Dave said it was difficult for the court to consider such a request as foetus and mother were in good health.
He observed that if the mother or child were suffering from a serious ailment, it would be a different case. But, he added, the court could not permit the termination of a seven-month-old baby inside the womb.
To an argument by the petitioner’s counsel, advocate Sikander Saiyed, that the girl’s age was a major concern, Justice Dave refuted it and said, “You are saying this because this is the 21st century. Ask your mother or grandmother. Earlier, maximum age to get married was 15 to 16 for a girl and before their 17th year, they used to give birth to at least one child. Read Manusmriti.”
Saiyed also agreed that as per Muslim law, the appropriate age for a girl to marry was 13. Apart from that, the court further said the foetus was already seven months’ old. “These days, even a six-month-old premature baby can survive if put in an incubator,” it added.
Taking note of the submissions made by the petitioner’s counsel regarding the effect of such a traumatic pregnancy on the minor’s physical as well as mental health, the court ordered for a medical examination including an ossification test and psychiatric evaluation on an urgent basis. It also sought the medical opinion of the medical superintendent of Rajkot civil hospital on the feasibility of termination in this case.