Human Rights Law Network

PILs & Cases

Bombay high court permits termination of fetus with severe abnormalities at the 25-week mark

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Priti Mahendra Singh Rawal  vs Union Of India And Ors

Writ Petition no. 11940 OF 2017, November 6, 2017

Inadequate access to health care, poor quality services, and outdated abortion restrictions contribute to India’s high Maternal Mortality Rate (MMR) of 174 deaths per 100,000 live births. Improving maternal health and reducing the MMR is a United Nations Millennium Development Goal (MDG). India is expected to have an MMR of 139 deaths per 1 lakh live births in 2015 -- missing the MDG by 30 percentage points.

This is a case of Priti Mahendra Singh Rawal, a 28-year-old Mumbai resident who was 25 weeks pregnant and barred from medical termination of her pregnancy in spite of the diagnosis of a fetal abnormality. The disorder was detected during an Ultrasonography in October 2017, and it was found that the fetus suffered from anomalies such as Neural tube defect which is seen at dorso-lumbar junction, a meningomyelocele [30 x 30 mm], secondary brain changes of hydrocephalus [16 mm] and Arnold Chiari malformation.


High Court of Chhattisgarh will frame MLC guidelines

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In a petition filed by a survivor of rape and trafficking in the high court of Chhattisgarh, the petitioner pleaded for termination of her pregnancy resulting from rape. Before knocking the doors of the court, she had to go pillar to post for obtaining a medical termination of pregnancy (abortion, MTP). The referral procedure took a lot of her time leading to the maturity of pregnancy. On approaching the court she was allowed an abortion subsequently. The judge was aghast at the procedure of referrals the girls had to go through to ask for an abortion. Noting this he would now take a landmark step of issuing guidelines regarding the Medico Legal Case examination of a rape survivor, to ensure that the MTP process is facilitated in case the victim has conceived as a result of rape and she wishes to get a MTP done. The court has asked the lawyers from the Chhattisgarh Unit of HRLN to make submission for the guideline. 

It is significant to note that the MTP Act, 1971 does not allow an abortion post 20-week period except in certain conditions. In the present case the court allowed the MTP post the 20 week period, as it was unwanted by the woman, after a panel of doctors examined the feasibility of the termination of pregnancy. He also made an important remark: “The Court's decision should be guided by the interests of the victim alone and not those of stakeholders such as guardians or society in general.”


For more details, Contact Ragini Pant;



Landmark order of Manipur High Court on JSSK implementation in Manipur

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The PIL for effective implementation of JSSK, which was filed in the High Court of Manipur was disposed of on 27th February 2017 in favour of the Petitioner.

According to this judgment, the earlier practice of putting a cap over the entitlements to be made available to pregnant women and new born babies  adopted by the Government of Manipur held to be illegal and as such the same has been set aside.


Petition to SC challenges 'Criminalisation of Abortions' after 20th week of pregnancy

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Mrs X and Mrs Y vs Union of India & Ors,challenges the Constitutional validity of section 3 (2) (b) of the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act 1971 (MTP Act). The MTP Act bans the medical termination of a pregnancy post 20 weeks, and therefore does not adequately take into account individual circumstances that may warrant termination post 20 weeks, including where there are severe foetal abnormalities.

The criminalisation of abortions after the 20th week of pregnancy violates a woman’s Fundamental Rights to life, liberty, health, choice and to be free from discrimination and inhuman and degrading treatment. Women who only discover they are carrying a foetus with severe abnormalities after the 20th week are unable to obtain an abortion. This forces many to seek often dangerous, illegal abortions from untrained providers in desperation. In some cases, testing to determine the existence of abnormalities can extend beyond the 20th week, forcing the pregnant woman to make a difficult decision on whether to abort the pregnancy without sufficient information.


The insensitive practice of Sterilisation 'Drives': A case from Bihar

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The irresponsible and target driven practice of ‘sterilization camps’ in India have resulted into an incident which completely violated the women’s right to life as we witness in the case, Devika Biswas v. Union of India & Ors. In January, 2012, a sterilization camp was conducted in the Arharia district of Bihar sterilising 53 women within 2 hours in unhygienic and cruel conditions. This camp was organized in a government school by Jai Ambe Welfare Society and authorised by Bihar state.

The petition highlights the wrong practices employed by the state to achieve sterilization targets, which is discouraged by the SC and the National Population Policy 2000. It also brings about how sterilisation is viewed as a ‘population control and stabilisation measure’ by the healthcare personnel rather a way of safeguarding a woman’s reproductive rights. The petition sought monetary compensation, directions for safety of patients, guidelines for terms of operations etc. 

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HRLN is a division of the Socio-Legal Information Centre (SLIC). SLIC is a non-profit legal aid and educational organization, registered under the Registration of Societies Act, 1860, Indian Public Trust Act, 1950 and the Foreign Contributions (Regulation) Act, 1976.