Z V. State of Bihar: Reproductive Autonomy and State Liability

Date01 April 2020
AuthorMrinal Satish
Published date01 April 2020
Subject MatterCase Comment
Z v. State of Bihar:
Autonomy and
State Liability
Mrinal Satish1
In this case note, I analyse the judgement of the Supreme Court of India in Z v.
State of Bihar. I focus on the important contribution that the case makes in the
context of reproductive health rights of women, and in particular, victims of rape.
I argue that the case provides a foundation for further development of the law on
various issues of reproductive rights and compensation jurisprudence for state
failures in guaranteeing statutory and constitutional rights of women, including
victims of rape. I further argue that the case also provides a framework for adju-
dication of cases in the criminal justice system, which involve pregnant women.
Compensation, medical decision-making, rape and sex crimes, victim services
The Indian Penal Code, 1860 (IPC) (Sections 312–316) criminalizes causing of
abortions both by the pregnant woman herself as well as any other person who
assists the woman in carrying out such abortion. The Medical Termination of
Pregnancy Act, 1971 (MTP Act), carves out an exception to the criminalization of
abortions. If a medical practitioner terminates a pregnancy on being satisfied that
one of the circumstances enlisted by the MTP Act exists, such termination will not
constitute an offence under the IPC. The outer gestation limit for terminating
Case Comment
Journal of Victimology
and Victim Justice
3(1) 128–137, 2020
2020 National Law
Universit y Delhi
Reprints and permissions:
DOI: 10.1177/2516606920927319
1 National Law University, New Delhi, India.
Corresponding author:
Mrinal Satish, National Law University, Sector 14, Dwarka, New Delhi 110078, India.
E-mail: mrinal.satish@nludelhi.ac.in

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