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Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act, 1971
Section 3(2)(b) and Rule 3B of the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Rules, 2003—Refusal by High Court to include an unmarried woman within the ambit of Rule 3B of the MTP Rules for termination of pregnancy in terms of provisions of Section 3(2)(b) of the MTP Act—Appeal—Parliament by amending the MTP Act through Act 8 of 2021 intended to include unmarried women and single women within the ambit of the Act—This is evident from the replacement of the word “husband” with “partner” in Explanation I of Section 3(2) of the MTP Act—Excluding unmarried women and single women from the ambit of the statute goes against the purpose of legislation—There is no basis to deny unmarried women the right to medically terminate the pregnancy, when same choice is available to other categories of women—A woman’s right to reproductive choice is an inseparable part of her personal liberty under Article 21 of the Constitution of India and she has a sacrosanct right to bodily integrity—Denying an unmarried woman the right to safe abortion violates her personal autonomy and freedom—Allowing petitioner to suffer an unwanted pregnancy would be contrary to the intent of the law enacted by the Parliament—Moreover, allowing the petitioner to terminate her pregnancy, on a proper interpretation of the statute, prima facie, falls within the ambit of the statute and the petitioner should not be denied the benefit on the ground that she is unmarried woman—Ad interim direction of High Court declining to grant interim relief is modified.
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Interpretation—Fundamental principles of statutory interpretation is that the words of a statute must be read in their entire context and in their grammatical and ordinary sense harmoniously with the scheme of the Act and the intent of the legislature.