SC Raps Gujarat HC Over “Lackadaisical Attitude” In Rape Case

The matter is related to a petition filed by a rape survivor seeking permission to terminate her pregnancy.
SC Raps Gujarat HC Over “Lackadaisical Attitude” In Rape Case
SC Raps Gujarat HC Over “Lackadaisical Attitude” In Rape Case

The Supreme Court of India (SC) on Monday came down heavily on the Gujarat High Court saying that any court passing an order against a superior court’s ruling is against the philosophy of the constitution.

The matter is related to a petition filed by a rape survivor seeking permission to terminate her pregnancy. The SC’s strong remarks came after the Gujarat HC passed an order on Saturday, even as the matter was listed by the apex court for Monday.

The Gujarat HC had refused relief to the petitioner, but SC has allowed the termination of her pregnancy. After being informed of an order by the high court on Saturday, the bench consisting of Justices BV Nagarathna and Ujjal Bhuyan noted, “What is happening in Gujarat High Court? No court in India can pass an order against a superior court order. It is against constitutional philosophy.”

Representing the Gujarat Government, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta said that the order on Saturday was passed only to fix a “clerical error”.   He said, “There was a clerical error in the previous order and that was fixed on Saturday. It was a misunderstanding. We as the state government will request the judge to recall the order.”

This came after the SC flagged the delay by the high court in deciding the rape survivor’s petition on Saturday saying “valuable time” has already been lost. The bench then said that they would hear the matter on Monday itself.

The Supreme Court issued notices to Gujarat government and others criticizing the “lackadaisical attitude” of the high court and sought their responses on the woman’s plea.

The counsel of the 25-year-old survivor told the SC that she had approached the court on August 7 and the matter was heard the next day. The high court on August 8 directed the formation of a medical board to look into the status of the petitioner’s pregnancy and her health condition.

Following her examination, a medical college submitted its report on August 10 which ruled that the pregnancy can be terminated, the counsel said.

The apex court observed that the report was taken on record by the high court on August 11, but the matter was “strangely” listed 12 days later, “losing sight of the fact that every day’s delay was crucial and of great significance having regard to the facts and circumstances of the case”.

The bench orally said, “In such cases, there must be, not undue urgency, but at least a sense of urgency in such matters and not a lackadaisical attitude of treating it as any normal case and just adjourning it. We are sorry to say and make this remark.”

The bench further noted that the petitioner’s counsel has informed that the case status of the matter showed that the high court had rejected the petition on August 17, but no reasons were given, and the order was yet to be uploaded on the high court’s website.

The petitioner’s counsel told the court that she would soon be approaching the 28th week of her pregnancy adding that a fresh medical report should be sought. The court then asked the petitioner to appear before the medical board again.

After the fresh medical examination was done, the Supreme Court allowed the termination of pregnancy.

“Subsequent to the medical procedure to be carried out, in the event the foetus is found to be alive, the hospital is to give all facilities including incubation to ensure the foetus survives. The State shall then take steps to ensure the child is adopted in accordance with law,” the SC noted.

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