SC seeks Centre’s reply on compensating 10-yr-old rape victim

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New Delhi, Aug 18 (PTI): The Supreme Court on Friday asked the Centre and the Chandigarh administration to respond to a plea seeking Rs 10 lakh compensation for a 10-year-old rape victim, who delivered a baby on Thursday.

The minor girl, whose plea seeking permission to undergo termination of pregnancy was earlier turned down by the apex court following a medical report, yesterday delivered a baby at a government hospital at Chandigarh. The top court was informed that the authorities in Chandigarh were insisting that compensation would be granted to her only after a charge sheet was filed in the case.

“That is no answer … What they say is absurd. We will issue notice to the Chandigarh administration also,” a bench comprising Justices Madan B Lokur and Deepak Gupta said. Senior advocate Indira Jaising, who mentioned the matter before the court, argued that the law mandates compensation of Rs three lakh in such cases, but the apex court had passed a judgement yesterday awarding Rs 10 lakh compensation to a rape victim whose plea for abortion was turned down.

“Yesterday, this court had given a compensation of Rs 10 lakh to a woman in a similar kind of case. Here is a 10-year old mother who cannot look after the child. Nothing has been paid so far to her,” she said, adding that the authorities have “insisted that they will pay compensation after a charge sheet is filed”.

Besides the Centre and Chandigarh administration, the apex court also sought responses from member secretary of the National Legal Services Authority (NALSA) and District Legal Services Authority of Chandigarh and posted the matter for further hearing on August 22. During the hearing, Jaising told the court that this was an “all-India issue”.

She argued that the doctors should terminate pregnancy, even if it has crossed the 20-week limit, in cases where it endangers the life of a woman but the medical practitioners were now insisting for a court order to abort the foetus in such cases. “Doctors should be given some guidance as to what they have to do in such matters, otherwise these petitions would come to the court,” she said.

To this, the bench observed, “this requires discussion.” Section 3(2)(b) of the Medical Termination of Pregnancy (MTP) Act prohibits abortion of a foetus after 20 weeks of pregnancy. The apex court had on July 28 dismissed the plea seeking its nod for terminating the 32-week-old pregnancy of the 10- year-old rape survivor after taking note of a medical report that abortion was neither good for the girl, nor for the foetus. A PIL was filed after a Chandigarh district court on July 18 had refused to let the girl undergo the abortion.

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