The Supreme Court Tuesday sought the response of the Centre on a plea seeking its nod for a 10-year-old rape survivor to terminate her 26-week-old pregnancy and ordered the child's examination by a medical board consented to by one of her parents.
A bench comprising Chief Justice J S Khehar and Justice D Y Chandrachud also directed that the member secretary of the Chandigarh Legal Services Authority be made a party to the case and asked the functionary to assist the court as an amicus curiae on July 28, the next date of hearing.
"Before the matter is taken up for hearing on July 28, the member secretary, after having followed the procedure and obtained due permission of at least one of the parents of the child, shall have the child examined at the PGI, Chandigarh, by a board of doctors on July 26...," it said.
The court said this would done so as to affirm one way or the other, whether the health of the girl child concerned, who was stated to be of the age of 10 years, and also that of the foetus, would be adversely affected if the pregnancy was continued for the full term.
"The member secretary shall carry the report of the board of doctors of the PGI, Chandigarh, to this court for its consideration, in a sealed cover," the bench said.
The court also asked the legal services functionary to "arrange for transportation of the girl child in question, as well as, at least one of her parents, at the time of medical examination...
"Such facilities shall be extended by the member secretary for effectuating the presence of the girl child involved, as also at least one of her parents, in this court, during the course of hearing, hereinafter."
The PIL was filed after a Chandigarh district court on July 18 refused to let the girl undergo the abortion after it was confirmed that she was 26 weeks pregnant.
Courts allow medical termination of pregnancy up to 20 weeks under the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act and can make an exception if the foetus is genetically abnormal.
The petition, filed by advocate Alakh Alok Srivastava, has sought appropriate guidelines be framed by the top court to set up a permanent medical board in each district of the country for expedient termination of pregnancies in exceptional cases involving child rape survivors under the best-possible medical facilities.
"Medical experts have categorically opined that if the 10-year-old rape survivor is forced to give birth through normal delivery or C-section, it may be fatal to the life of the girl as well her child," the petition filed through advocate Kedar Nath Tripathy has said.
The petition has also sought a direction to the Centre to amend Section 3 of the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act, 1971, so as to permit termination of pregnancy of more than 20 weeks, particularly involving child rape survivors after obtaining requisite opinion from a permanently constituted medical board.