Frame SOP for abortion in minors: Madras HC tells TN govt

Cites SC judgment on MTP Act & consensual sex involving minors
Madras High Court (File Photo | EPS)
Madras High Court (File Photo | EPS)

CHENNAI: Directing the state government authorities to formulate a procedure for termination of pregnancy arising out of consensual sex involving minors in order to comply with the Supreme Court judgment on the issue, the Madras High Court said a minor girl’s pregnancy can be terminated by a registered medical practitioner (RMP) without insisting on disclosure of the name of the minor.

A division bench of Justices N Anand Venkatesh and Sunder Mohan gave the direction while reviewing the cases filed under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (Pocso) Act. The bench cited a Supreme Court judgment allowing termination of pregnancy arising out of consensual sex of a minor girl by an RMP without insisting on the girl’s identity so that she can avoid approaching an unqualified doctor for termination with the intention of hushing up things to avert legal process.

It is clear that if a minor approaches an RMP for termination of pregnancy arising out of consensual sexual activity, the identity of the victim need not be disclosed, though section 19 (1) of the Pocso Act mandates revelation of identity, since the girl concerned and her parents may not want to get entangled in the legal process.

“In such instances, termination of pregnancy can be made without insisting on the identity,” the bench said while directing the authorities to formulate a procedure strictly in compliance with the SC judgment.
As per an earlier direction of the court, the police submitted reports of 1,274 Pocso cases, out of which, 111 were related to consensual relationships. 

Appreciating the Crime Against Women and Children Wing of the police, the judges said the court would quash the cases if the parents of the victim girls give their consent for it. Referring to a circular of the National Health Mission (NHM)- Tamil Nadu that per-veganism or colposcopy examination should not be done unless it is required for the detection of injuries or for medical treatment, the bench said when such a specific guideline is given, the doctor should not conduct the procedure. 

The court directed the authorities to take into account the observations while preparing the standard operating procedure (SOP) for the examination of victim girls. The bench said potency tests need not be undertaken in a routine manner in all cases involving sexual offences. If the accused raises impotency as a defence, the burden of proof will be upon the person to prove he is impotent and only in such instances, is there a requirement to conduct a potency test, the court said. The bench has taken up reviewing the Pocso Act on the trail of a case where a boy tied the nuptial thread on a schoolgirl in full public view at a bus stand in Cuddalore.

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