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“Awake, Arise, Oh! Parth”; take the issue of female foeticide with all seriousness and concern: Supreme Court to States [Read the Order]

Rapping the States for their lackadaisical approach towards the issue of female foeticide, a Supreme Court Bench comprising of Justice Dipak Misra and Justice U.U. Lalit recapitulated the saying, “Awake, Arise, Oh! Parth” and stated, “we say this to the States so that they can really wake up to take the issue of female foeticide with all seriousness and sincere concern.”

The Bench noted that some States had filed affidavits in pursuance of an earlier order. However, certain states, namely, Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Bihar, Goa, Gujarat, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Orissa, Tripura, and UT of Daman and Nagar Haveli and Puducherry, “by adopting a lackadaisical attitude”, had still hadn’t filed an affidavit. They were given two weeks time to file the same.

Expressing its dissatisfaction with the documents submitted, the Bench observed, “In our considered opinion, there should be a verification of the documents that form the basis on which these figures have been arrived at. Let it be clarified that the figures that have been put forth do not show any indication of improvement but we would like to have it verified to satisfy ourselves whether the figure that has been put forth is correct or not. The purpose is to find out whether there is degradation of the sex ratio or a stagnation or any steps have really been taken by the concerned States to improve/enhance the sex ratio or not?”

It hence directed that a meeting be held under the auspices of National Inspection and Monitoring Committee wherein the Additional Secretary who has filed the affidavit for the Union of India and two other Joint Secretaries of the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare shall remain present. It also directed the presence of deponents who have filed affidavits on behalf of Uttar Pradesh and NCT of Delhi. Besides, the presence of Director General of Health Services of State of Haryana, Principle Secretary and Special Secretary of State of Uttar Pradesh was also mandated. The meeting will be held on 03.12.2014 at 10.30 a.m.

The States were also asked to file separate affidavits suggesting incentives that can be given to the family who show respect and honor for the girl child and give birth to girl child so that the sex ratio is improved.

The Court had divided the States into clusters in order to deal with the situation, the first cluster being Uttar Pradesh, Haryana and NCT of Delhi.

Talking about the affidavit filed by Uttar Pradesh, which included a census chart of the year 2011, the Court observed that the affidavit is “absolutely non-informative from all corners”. The Court said that the sex ratio cannot be the guideline for the purposes of the PC-PNDT Act and that a different methodology would have to be adopted.

The affidavit submitted by the State of Haryana was considered to be comprehensive by the Bench. However, the basis of the chart, which gave district-wise and month-wise sex ratio of births during the year 2014, was not explained properly.

The affidavit filed by the NCT of Delhi also asserted a 9 point increase in the sex ratio at birth in the year 2013, as compared to the previous year. It relied on the data available from Civil Registration System indicates which said that Sex Ratio at Birth was 809 females per 1000 males in the year 2001 and it is currently at 895 in 2013.

The Court hence directed the State to file relevant registers and records, in accordance with which the charts were created, before the Committee.

Reports were directed to be filed by 10th of December. The three States were also directed to bring records with regard to the prosecutions levied by the State year-wise and the stage of the prosecution.

The next cluster of States for scrutiny will be Tamil Nadu, Himachal Pradesh, Bihar and Rajasthan. The matter will next be heard on 11th of December.

A Supreme Court Bench comprising of Justice Dipak Misra and Justice N.V. Ramana, had earlier rapped the Centre for being “sloppy” in taking steps to curb female foeticide in the country. Read the LiveLaw story here.

Read more news about the issue here.

Read the order here.

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