New Delhi [India], April 15 (ANI): The Delhi High Court on Wednesday directed the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) to constitute a medical board and examine and determine the medical condition of a woman and her fetus, who is seeking termination of her pregnancy as there are chances that child may suffer abnormalities after birth.
The court was hearing a petition filed under Article 226 of the Constitution praying for a direction to the respondents to permit the petitioner to medically terminate her pregnancy and also seeking a declaration for declaring Section 3 (2)(B) and Section 5(1) of the Medical Termination of Pregnancy (MTP) Act as ultra vires the Constitution of India.
The petitioner is at the gestation stage of the 23rd week. The petitioner and her husband were informed that the child, if born, would require multiple surgeries to cure him and whether the child would be completely cured even after surgeries, is uncertain. It was told that the extent of medical condition/abnormality in the fetus cannot be completely ascertained at this stage.
Counsel for the petitioner contended that the petitioner is 29-year-old and this is her first pregnancy. "Looking at the medical condition of the fetus, it is not advisable that the petitioner continues with the pregnancy and gives birth to a child who may after birth suffer various abnormalities," the counsel said.
It was also pointed out that as per further reports the fetus has also been diagnosed as suffering from echogenic bowel and hepatic calcification.
"The condition of the fetus is thus a cause of concern for the petitioner and her husband and, thus a decision has been taken that it is in the best interest of the mother and the child that the petitioner undergoes medical termination of the pregnancy," the petitioner's counsel added.
The petitioner also argued that that the apex court and the High Courts in some cases have issued directions permitting medical termination of pregnancy post 20 weeks, where the circumstances so required.
Counsels for AIIMS Advocate Anand Verma, Union of India counsel Rajesh Gogna and the Delhi government lawyer Mrinalini Sen submitted that they have no objection in examining the petitioner, in order to ascertain the medical condition of the fetus as well as the risk involved in the termination of the pregnancy.
Advocate Gogna, Standing Counsel appearing for the Union of India has drawn the attention of the court to the memorandum issued by the Health Ministry, which provides for constitution of permanent medical boards, with experts in the relevant field and said that the role of these boards is to respond to the directions of the court and examine the woman or a minor girl for termination of pregnancy and submit their reports.
Insofar as the challenge to certain sections of the MTP Act are concerned, Gogna submitted that the issue of permitting medical termination of pregnancy beyond the statutory period of 20 weeks and up to 24 weeks has been under consideration with the government and finally a bill was passed bringing about Amendment to the Act in this regard. "The Bill has been passed in the Lok Sabha and presently, the Bill is pending in the Rajya Sabha and therefore, the petitioner need not press her challenge to the vires of the statutory provisions," he said.
A Bench of Justices JR Midha and Jyoti Singh also directed the medical board to examine whether the continuance of the pregnancy would involve a risk to the petitioner or would in any manner lead to deterioration of her physical or mental health and whether there is any risk if the medical termination of pregnancy is performed at this stage.
The High Court said that the medical board will give its report, which will include the analysis of the medical abnormality of the fetus, along with its opinion, keeping in view the detailed guidelines mentioned in the memorandum issued by the Central government.
"The Counsel for AIIMS is at liberty to carry the report in a sealed cover to the court, in the event that he is unable to file the same before the next date of hearing, on account of paucity of time," it said.
The court has listed the matter for further hearing on April 20.
The entire exercise, as undertaken by the learned counsel for AIIMS, would be completed within a period of three days from today. (ANI)