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Supreme Court Sets Up Special Bench for Abortion Case of 25-Year-Old Rape Survivor

On August 19, the Supreme Court established a Special Bench to hear the case of a 25-year-old rape survivor fighting for her abortion rights.

The registry of the supreme court got to work as soon as she submitted her appeal. On August 19, at 10.30 a.m., Chief Justice of India D.Y. Chandrachud convened a Special Bench comprising Justices B.V. Nagarathna and Ujjal Bhuyan, who hurried to the court.

The Gujarat High Court denied the woman’s request to terminate her pregnancy. Her pregnancy is over 26 weeks old. This happened despite a favorable medical report on August 11, as the Bench learned during the hearing.

Upon discovering that the High Court had oddly delayed the matter for nearly two weeks before rejecting her plea, Justice Nagarathna expressed her astonishment.

The woman’s counsel explained that they submitted a petition to the High Court on August 7. The court then heard the case the next day. It had asked for a medical exam. Next 48 hours saw the submission of the medical report. The High Court, however, rescheduled the case until August 23 on August 11.

“How can the court stand it over to August 23? How many valuable days were lost because of this,” asked Justice Nagarathna.

The High Court had not yet uploaded the dismissal order, and the Bench had also been informed.

In these situations, there is a sense of urgency. A “lackadaisical approach” has no place, according to Justice Nagarathna.

Later on in the day, the Bench mandated a new medical evaluation of the woman. The court was to file the report by the 20th of August. The Supreme Court posted the case on August 21.

Due to the significant time missed, they might request a new report from the medical board in Bharauch. We direct the petitioner to revisit KMCRI hospital for a reexamination. The latest status report should reach this court by Sunday evening at 6 o’clock. The order instructed that they must present the same to this court on Monday.

The Bench also instructed the Supreme Court Secretary General. They should confirm with the Gujarat High Court Registry if the order has been uploaded.

The Medical Termination of Pregnancy (Amendment) Act, 2021 stipulates a maximum gestational period of 24 weeks. This applies to specific groups of women, including rape survivors, incest victims, and vulnerable women like those with disabilities or minors.

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