Summary of Recent judgment

Case: XYZ v. State of Gujarat 2023 SC 680

Date of Order / Judgment: 21st August 2023.

The Matter Heard by Bench: Justices BV Nagarathna and Ujjal Bhuyan


The Petitioner is an Adivasi woman from a remote village in Gujarat who was allegedly raped under the false pretext of marriage. She approached the Gujarat High Court first under Articles 226 and 227 of the Constitution along with Section 482 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 and Section 3 of the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act, 1971. The petitioner’s pregnancy is now nearing 28 weeks. When she was 26 weeks pregnant, a medical board found her to be clinically fit for the termination procedure. The board was constituted on the strength of a high court order, which had taken on board the survivor’s writ petition on August 8. On August 10, the board placed its report before a single-judge bench of the Gujarat High Court, but despite the favourable opinion, Justice Samir J Dave did not entertain the plea for abortion.

Observation of the Supreme Court

The Supreme Court has reiterated that a woman alone has the right over her body and is the ultimate decision-maker on the question of whether she wants to undergo an abortion. In the context of abortion, the right of dignity entails recognising the competence and authority of every woman to take reproductive decisions, including the decision to terminate the pregnancy. Although human dignity inheres in every individual, it is susceptible to violation by external conditions and treatment imposed by the State. The right of every woman to make reproductive choices without undue interference from the state is central to the idea of human dignity. The court also states that Deprivation of access to reproductive healthcare, apart from being injurious to the emotional and physical well-being of the woman, also injured the dignity of the woman.


A woman can become pregnant by choice irrespective of her marital status. In case the pregnancy is wanted, it is equally shared by both the partners. However, in case of unwanted or incidental pregnancy, the burden invariably falls on the pregnant woman affecting her mental and physical health. Article 21 of the Constitution recognizes and protects the right of a woman to undergo termination of pregnancy if her mental or physical health is at stake. Importantly, it is the woman alone who has the right over her body and is the ultimate decision-maker on the question of whether she wants to undergo an abortion