Controversy over custody of mentally challenged rape victim in ChandigarhOctober 2nd, 2009 - 3:31 pm ICT by IANS
Chandigarh, Oct 2 (IANS) A fresh controversy has erupted over the issue of custody of a 19-year-old mentally challenged pregnant rape victim between the administration of this union territory (UT) and a Delhi-based trust.
A meeting between the officials of the Chandigarh administration and the trust’s representatives, in New Delhi Thursday, to decide the custody of the woman, who is now in the 27th week of the pregnancy, ended without any agreement.
“The trust has now taken a u-turn and refused to take responsibility of the victim and her unborn child though they had committed to do this while requesting Supreme Court to put a stay the abortion orders,” a senior Chandigarh administration official, who was present in the meeting, said Friday, speaking on condition of anonymity.
“We do not want any financial aid from them. They should just make it clear whether they are ready to owe the responsibility of the victim or not,” the official added.
Chandigarh Home Secretary Ram Niwas told IANS that he would not comment on the issue as the matter was before the courts. “We are ready to abide by the court’s decision,” he said.
In July this year, the Supreme Court had stayed the order of the Punjab and Haryana High Court, asking the Chandigarh administration to get the pregnancy of this rape victim terminated medically, as it felt that she was not in a position to raise the child and it would be best to medically terminate the 18-week pregnancy at that time.
However, the apex court observed that the medical opinion given by a leading medical institution favoured the continuation of pregnancy. While giving its verdict, the court put emphasis on the desire expressed by the victim to deliver the child.
In the Thursday meeting, the trust proposed to constitute a corpus fund of Rs.800,000 to provide future financial aid to mother and her unborn baby under their “Gharonda” scheme.
They also offered to provide a caregiver to the victim for a period of five years and a health cover insurance of Rs.100,000.
“We never promised anybody to take the victim with us to New Delhi. We had offered an assistance package and we are ready to give it,” said an official of the national trust for the welfare of persons with autism, cerebral palsy, mental retardation and multiple disabilities.
“If the Chandigarh administration is ready to give us an affidavit that they are not capable of taking care of the mother and her child then we will take them with us,” she added.
The victim was allegedly raped by a male attendant, Bhupinder Singh, 32, at the government-run Nari Niketan in Sector 26 here. The matter came to light May this year after the victim developed complications. The police have arrested the main accused and three others.
The next hearing of the case in the high court is Oct 12. The court is expected to take up the issue of the adoption of the victim and her unborn child.
Presently, the victim is being kept by local authorities at the government medical college and hospital here in Sector 32.
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