Justice Samir Dave of the Gujarat High Court referred to the Manusmriti during a hearing on the termination of a seven-month pregnancy involving a minor rape survivor. The judge referred Manusmriti to support his contention that early marriage and childbirth were once prevalent, emphasizing the need to consider historical practices in the case. The court has directed medical examinations and evaluations before deciding on the termination, awaiting reports from doctors by June 15.
During the proceedings, Justice Dave made oral remarks referencing the Manusmriti, suggesting that in the past, it was customary for girls to marry and give birth at a young age. “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…” Justice Dave remarked.
The court ordered an examination by the Rajkot Civil Hospital, along with an ossification test to determine her age and an evaluation by a psychiatrist to assess her mental condition. The judge further advised the lawyer representing the girl’s father to explore alternative options in case the medical opinion did not favor the termination. He raised questions about the future care of the child if it were born and suggested investigating government schemes or potential adoption opportunities.
The 17-year-old rape survivor’s father approached the High Court seeking permission for the termination, as the pregnancy had exceeded the legal limit of 24 weeks for abortion without court intervention. The court set the next date for hearing on June 15, awaiting reports from the hospital and medical experts.