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Orissa HC asks govt to pay Rs 10 lakh compensation to gang-rape survivor

The victim, a resident of Cuttack district, while returning to her house, was gagged in the mouth by a towel and she was forcibly taken away to the nearby school by a group of miscreants.

SNS | Bhubaneshwar |

The Orissa High Court while refusing to allow the pregnancy termination of a gang-rape survivor directed the State government to pay Rs 10 lakh compensatory sum to the victim.

“It is heart-wrenching to imagine the situation of the petitioner and what lies ahead of her. This Court does feel that her welfare is, therefore, the paramount consideration for this court. However, as regards the legal position, the above discussion and the mandate of Section 3 of the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act (MTPA), in particular, leads only to one conclusion i.e., since the length of the pregnancy of the victim is over twenty-six weeks, this Court cannot permit its termination”, Justice S.K. Panigrahi observed while rejecting the victim’s prayer for termination of unwanted pregnancy.

The victim, a resident of Cuttack district, while returning to her house, was gagged in the mouth by a towel and she was forcibly taken away to the nearby school by a group of miscreants. Later the accused persons forcibly committed rape on her and threatened to kill in the event she spoke about the act to her family members or police, according to the case records.

The State Legal Services Authority shall ensure that the State Government shall pay an amount of Rs.10 lakh as compensation to the victim. This amount shall be over and above the compensation amount, if any, the learned Trial Court may direct to be paid to the victim and/or her child at the conclusion of the trial in the underlying proceedings, Justice Panigrahi ruled.

The District Collector, Cuttack shall ensure that arrangements are made to provide proper diet, medical supervision and medicines as may be necessary, to the victim throughout the remaining part of her journey of pregnancy.

When the time for delivery arrives, proper medical facilities shall be made available for safe delivery of the child, the HC ordered. “The petitioner, being an unmarried young girl has not just suffered physically and mentally but has also been deprived of maintaining a dignified social life due to commission of the said offence.

In fact, rape is understood as humiliation, violation of self-determination and an intimate attack on the woman’s personhood. The learned counsel for the petitioner has further submitted that the petitioner has been pregnant for more than 4 months and feels morally insecure to step out of her house due to horrendous social stigma attached to such crime”, petitioner’s counsel Sarathi Jyoti Mohanty submitted in the court while praying for medical termination of the pregnancy

The social relations between men and women in which violence against women is often taken for granted, especially in cases like these the judge does decide their fate in the decision to abort or not to abort the pregnancy.

Indisputably, in the case at hand, the victim is being forced to bear and care for the unwanted child is bound to severely impact her personality and womanhood. Considering the present situation, where the victim chose to approach the Court through her guardian as per the MTP Act seeking termination of her undesired pregnancy albeit with some delay, her request should have been acceded to over and above the right to life of the child yet to be born. Though this issue has, time and again, knocks at the judicial threshold it is still crying for an un-perplexed solution by way of suitable amendment in the statute governing the field, the court observed while refusing to allow legal abortion on the ground that the length of pregnancy has crossed 26 weeks.

“While examining the instant case, the Court is confronted with a dynamic tension between the Court’s power to protect the rights of the victim and the solicitude for the unborn. In fact, a crime like rape affects the lives of victims and associated physical and emotional consequences”, Justice Panigrahi concluded.