COURT: THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA
LEGAL PROVISION: MTP,1971, RULE 3B OF THE MTPR,2003
BENCH: HON’BLE DR. CHANDRACHUD, HON’BLE MS. LOHLI, PAMIDIGHANTAM SRI NARASIMHA
PRINCIPAL SECRETORY AND FWD, GOVT OF NCT…………. RESPONDENT
This is the landmark judgement, in this judgement Supreme Court held that unmarried women can terminate their pregnancy under rule 3B of MTP ( MEDICAL TERMINATION OF PREGNANCY), after this judgement unmarried women easily terminate their unwanted pregnancy with safe process, in the constitution of India, Article 14,19 and 21 protect the right of women.
Articles 14 and 21 of the Indian constitution of Indian, The MEDICAL TERMINATION OF PREGNANCY ACT and MEDICAL TERMINATION OF PREGNANCY ACT Amendment 2021, MEDICAL TERMINATION OF PREGNANCY Rules 2003.
FACT OF THE CASE:
In this case, one unmarried woman challenged the judgement of the division bench of DELHI HIGH COURT that refused to grant her relief to terminate her twenty two weeks pregnancy She was born in Manipur, and raised permanently in Delhi she was 25 years old, She said that she got pregnant as a result of consensual relationship now she faces social stigma that unmarried women have no right to get pregnant and she also not mentally ready to give birth even she did not have any source of income to live or properly raise a child so she wants to terminate her pregnancy.
The high court rejected her prayer on the ground of section 3(2)(b) of the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act 1971, her prayer was inapplicable to the facts of the present case since the appellant was an unmarried woman, her consensual relation was not covered by any rule of 3B of the MEDICAL TERMINATION OF PREGNANCY the supreme court of India in response to a decision rendered by a Delhi High Court, the pregnancy could be terminated without endangering the appellant’s life by supreme court order dated July 21, 2022.
The issues raised in this case are the following:
- Does the MEDICAL TERMINATION OF PREGNANCY ACT section 3(2)(b) rules, violate our article 14 of the Indian Constitution?
- Should any woman who is a victim of marital rape be allowed to do an abortion without her husband’s consent?
- Are Indian constitution article 21, Right to life and liberty, violated?
- Why unmarried women do not terminate their pregnancy?
- Reproductive system is her choice.
CONTENTION OF PARTIES:
Arguments of petitioner –
Dr Amit Mishra an experienced doctor argued the petitioner was a single woman, she had a source of income to live life and care for her child, and her parents were farmers, she said that she was not ready to continue her pregnancy, her mental health is not good because of society sigma, if the court does not give her permission to terminate her Pregnancy she harms her body for sure, her article 14 or 21 of The Indian Constitution violate, the reproductive system is her choice to continue the pregnancy or not, if you are not allowing her to terminate her pregnancy so this court violates her right which is given in article 14 or 21 of THE INDIAN CONSTITUTION, this is discriminating against women based on their marital status.
Argument from the Respondent side –
This court has received competent assistance in interpreting section 3(2) of the MTP Act and rules 3(b)(c) of the MTP rules from Ms. Aishwarya Bhati, a knowledgeable senior lawyer and Additional Solicitor General. She provided the following evidence to back up her claim that unmarried or single women in committed relationships are also covered by rule 3(b)(C), modern law should be interpreted in light of how society has changed since they were enacted. Beneficial laws should not be construed literally; instead. They should have a purposeful interpretation,
She also argued that women have the freedom to have children and also the right of abortion, and because the women are entitled to maintenance in both forms of relationship ‘’ are equivalent to marriage. Additionally, the offspring of such a condition are granted the right to succeed their parents, the MTP act is one of many national laws that does not distinguish between married and unmarried or single women .to counter the argument of the petitioner about marital status she stated that rule 3(B)(C) ‘‘definition of change of marital status ‘’should be read as “change in the status of a relationship” to include single, abandoned women too. She said that live-in relationships are equal to marriages because the woman is entitled to maintenance in both situations. It is significant to remember that several national laws, such as MEDICAL TERMINATION OF PREGNANCY ACT.
The court held that there is no valid reason to exclude unmarried or single women from the application of rule 3B of MTP rules. It was determined that such a constrained Article 14 of the Indian Constitution, protects the right to equality. The court concludes that equal treatment for everyone in the eyes of the law and equivalent safety under the law.
The court also observed that “the law should not choose those who are beneficiaries of status based on limiting traditional views of what constitutes “permissible sex” as theist them in an unfair light and eliminates them depending on their unique circumstance. An unmarried woman has the same freedom of choice regarding having a baby as a married woman, supreme court also realized that married women also be the victim of marital rape, rape is a form of intimate partner abuse, raping unmarried women or married women by her husband is same, so the court said that the right to reproduction autonomy applied equally to married and unmarried women with safe.
DEFECT OF LAW;
In some circumstances, the new law raises the gestational restriction for termination of pregnancy from 20 to 24 weeks; some contend that this cap may still be restricted and may not take into account particular circumstances in which late-term abortions may be required because of fetal abnormalities or risks to the women’s health. Amendments need to be made in the law in itself with the changes proposed by this case law, the court’s decision upholds the following constitutional rights of the petitioner
1. Justice K. S Puttaswamy v. Union of Indian
2. Suchitra Srivastav v. Chandigarh
3. S Khushbo v. Kaniamal
4. KESHVANANDA BHARTI v. State of KERLA
However, women seeking prompt medical attention may experience delays and added stress due to the complex and lengthy procedure of getting approval from the medical board.
The court found it good to include marital rape in the definition of rape under rule 3B (a) of the Medical Termination of Pregnancy rules because it recognized that women can have non-consensual sexual intercourse with their spouses a result, women who have been the victims of marital rape are allowed to end their pregnancies without their husband’s consent.
In conclusion, now we have a safe and secure abortion, and after this supreme court judgement, all unmarried women also abort their child with her consent and below 18-year-old girls also abort their pregnancies with the consent of their parents and gardens, this decision has drawn praise for recognizing unmarried women’s ability to request the termination of pregnancies origination from consensual relationships, the supreme court took into concern the social taboo.
Asian Law College, Noida