Justice Samir Dave of the Gujarat High Court on Thursday quoted Manusmriti to support his contention that girls used to get married at the age of 14 or 15 and would often deliver a baby by the age of 17. He made the remark orally while hearing a plea seeking the termination of a seven month pregnancy by a minor rape survivor.
The court directed the Rajkot Civil Hospital to examine the minor girl first before taking any decision on the termination of the pregnancy. The court will decide whether to allow medical termination after a report by a panel of doctors from the hospital. The next date for hearing is June 15.
Earlier, while hearing the case, Justice Dave remarked, “In the older times, it was normal for girls to get married by 14-15 years of age and to have a child before the age of 17… You will not read it, but do read Manusmriti once for this.”
Justice Dave also hinted that if the girl and the fetus were healthy, then the court may not allow the medical termination.
“The court can consider [allowing abortion] if any serious ailments are found in the fetus or the girl. But if both are normal, it will be very difficult for the court to pass such an order,’‘ the judge said.
Moreover, the court directed that doctors should also carry out an ossification test — meant to determine age — on the minor girl, while a psychiatrist should ascertain her mental condition.
Justice Dave asked the hospital to submit its reports by June 15, the next date of hearing.