We direct in consequence that the judgment of this Court in Voluntary Health Association of Punjab shall be strictly enforced by all states and union territories untrammelled by any order of any High Court or any other court, the Bench said.
The Supreme Court has stayed a Delhi High Court judgment that held that there are no provisions in the Pre-conception and Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques (Prohibition of Sex Selection) Act, empowering any of the bodies constituted under the law or even the Central government to prescribe qualifications for practicing medicine with the aid of an ultrasound imaging equipment or to prescribe the nature and content of the curriculum or duration of the qualification.
The Delhi High Court had held that Section 2(p) of the PNDT Act defining a sonologist or imaging specialist is bad to the extent it includes persons possessing a postgraduate qualification in ultrasonography or imaging techniques – because there is no such qualification recognised by MCI, and the PNDT Act does not empower the statutory bodies constituted thereunder or the Central Government to devise and coin new qualification.
The Union of India had approached the apex court against this judgment. The bench headed by Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra observed that the impact of the directions which have been issued by the Supreme Court is negated by this judgment of the Delhi High Court.
The bench further observed: “Prima facie, the High Court has erred in its finding that there is an absence of statutory power. Sub-section 1 of Section 32 of the PCPNDT Act confers rule making power upon Central Government for “carrying out the provisions of the Act.”
Referring to provisions of the Act, the bench observed that the Parliament has conferred upon the Central Government rule making authority to specify minimum qualification for persons to be employed at genetic counselling centres, laboratories and clinics. “Specification of qualifications, in our view, should be read in a purposive sense which will fulfil the object of the law. Even on a plain and natural construction of the words used by Parliament, specification of qualifications must necessarily comprehend the power to prescribe training. The rationale for this is that the training would sensitize the person concerned to the salutary object and purpose of the legislation which has been enacted by Parliament to deal with a serious social evil and be conscious of the misuse of sex-selection tests. Pre-natal diagnostic procedures are susceptible to grave misuse,” the bench said.
The court further observed that the wisdom of the legislature in adopting the policy cannot be substituted by the court in the exercise of the power of judicial review. “Prima facie the judgment of the Delhi High Court has trenched upon an area of legislative policy. Judicial review cannot extend to reappreciating the efficacy of a legislative policy adopted in a law which has been enacted by the competent legislature. Both the Indian Medical Council Act, 1956 and the PCPNDT Act are enacted by Parliament. Parliament has the legislative competence to do so. The Training Rules 2014 were made by the Central Government in exercise of the power conferred by Parliament. Prima facie, the rules are neither ultra vires the parent legislation nor do they suffer from manifest arbitrariness,” the bench observed while staying the operation of Delhi High Court judgment.
The court said: “The judgment of the High Court squarely impinges upon the directions issued by this Court in Voluntary Health Association of Punjab. We direct in consequence that the judgment of this Court in Voluntary Health Association of Punjab shall be strictly enforced by all states and union territories untrammelled by any order of any High Court or any other court.”