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A Female Child Is Entitled To Enjoy Equal Right Of A Male Child: SC Issues Directions To Curb Female Foeticide [Read Judgment]

The predicament with regard to female foeticide by misuse of modern science and technology has aggravated and enormously affected the sex ratio, said the Court.

Supreme Court Today in Voluntary Health Association Vs State of Punjab, has issued additional directions to curb female foeticide by effective implementation of the ‘The Pre-conception and Pre-natal Diagnostic Techniques (Prohibition of Sex Selection) Act, 1994’.

The heart of the issue highlighted in the petition was the increase of female foeticide, resultant imbalance of sex ratio and the indifference in the implementation of the stringent law that is in force.

The Division Bench comprising Justices Dipak Misra and Shiva Kirti Singh observed that it needs no special emphasis that a female child is entitled to enjoy equal right that a male child is allowed to have.

“The constitutional identity of a female child cannot be mortgaged to any kind of social or other concept that has developed or is thought of. It does not allow any room for any kind of compromise. It only permits affirmative steps that are constitutionally postulated. Be it clearly stated that when rights are conferred by the Constitution, it has to be understood that such rights are recognised regard being had to their naturalness and universalism. No one, let it be repeated, no one, endows any right to a female child or, for that matter, to a woman. The question of any kind of condescension or patronization does not arise.”

Supreme Court in Center for Enquiry into Health & Allied Themes (CEHAT) and others v. Union of India and others(1),Center for Enquiry into Health & Allied Themes (CEHAT) and others v. Union of India and others(2)  and Voluntary Health Association of Punjab Vs. Union of India and others(1) had already issued many directions for the effective implementation of the Act.

Today the Supreme Court has issued the following directions:

(a) All the States and the Union Territories in India shall maintain a centralized database of civil registration records from all registration units so that information can be made available from the website regarding the number of boys and girls being born.

(b) The information that shall be displayed on the website shall contain the birth information for each District, Municipality, Corporation or Gram Panchayat so that a visual comparison of boys and girls born can be immediately seen.

(c) The statutory authorities if not constituted as envisaged under the Act shall be constituted forthwith and the competent authorities shall take steps for the reconstitution of the statutory bodies so that they can become immediately functional after expiry of the term. That apart, they shall meet regularly so that the provisions of the Act can be 35 Page 36 implemented in reality and the effectiveness of the legislation is felt and realized in the society.

(d) The provisions contained in Sections 22 and 23 shall be strictly adhered to. Section 23(2) shall be duly complied with and it shall be reported by the authorities so that the State Medical Council takes necessary action after the intimation is given under the said provision. The Appropriate Authorities who have been appointed under Sections 17(1) and 17(2) shall be imparted periodical training to carry out the functions as required under various provisions of the Act. (e) If there has been violation of any of the provisions of the Act or the Rules, proper action has to be taken by the authorities under the Act so that the legally inapposite acts are immediately curbed.

(f) The Courts which deal with the complaints under the Act shall be fast tracked and the concerned High Courts shall issue appropriate directions in that regard.

(g) The judicial officers who are to deal with these cases under the Act shall be periodically imparted training in the Judicial Academies or Training Institutes, as the case may 36 Page 37 be, so that they can be sensitive and develop the requisite sensitivity as projected in the objects and reasons of the Act and its various provisions and in view of the need of the society.

(h) The Director of Prosecution or, if the said post is not there, the Legal Remembrancer or the Law Secretary shall take stock of things with regard to the lodging of prosecution so that the purpose of the Act is subserved.

(i) The Courts that deal with the complaints under the Act shall deal with the matters in promptitude and submit the quarterly report to the High Courts through the concerned Sessions and District Judge.

(j) The learned Chief Justices of each of the High Courts in the country are requested to constitute a Committee of three Judges that can periodically oversee the progress of the cases.

(k) The awareness campaigns with regard to the provisions of the Act as well as the social awareness shall be undertaken as per the direction No 9.8 in the order dated March 4, 2013 passed in Voluntary Health Association of Punjab (supra). 37 Page 38

(l) The State Legal Services Authorities of the States shall give emphasis on this campaign during the spread of legal aid and involve the para-legal volunteers.

(m) The Union of India and the States shall see to it that appropriate directions are issued to the authorities of All India Radio and Doordarshan functioning in various States to give wide publicity pertaining to the saving of the girl child and the grave dangers the society shall face because of female foeticide.

(n) All the appropriate authorities including the States and districts notified under the Act shall submit quarterly progress report to the Government of India through the State Government and maintain Form H for keeping the information of all registrations readily available as per sub-rule 6 of Rule 18A of the Rules.

(o) The States and Union Territories shall implement the Pre-conception and Pre-natal Diagnostic Techniques (Prohibition of Sex Selection) (Six Months Training) Rules, 2014 forthwith considering that the training provided therein is imperative for realising the objects and purpose of this Act. 38 Page 39

(p) As the Union of India and some States framed incentive schemes for the girl child, the States that have not framed such schemes, may introduce such schemes.

Read the Judgment here.

This article has been made possible because of financial support from Independent and Public-Spirited Media Foundation.

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