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Pre­natal Sex ­Determination Is A Grave Offence Which Has Potential To Damage The Very Fabric Of Gender Equality & Dignity: Supreme Court

LIVELAW NEWS NETWORK
30 Jan 2021 2:05 PM GMT
Pre­natal Sex ­Determination Is A Grave Offence Which Has Potential To Damage The Very Fabric Of Gender Equality & Dignity: Supreme Court
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The Supreme Court observed that pre­natal sex ­determination is a grave offence with serious consequences for the society as a whole. A strict approach has to be adopted if we are to eliminate the scourge of female feticide and iniquity towards girl children from our society, the bench headed by Justice Mohan M. Shantanagoudar said while upholding the Madhya Pradesh High Court...

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The Supreme Court observed that pre­natal sex ­determination is a grave offence with serious consequences for the society as a whole. 

A strict approach has to be adopted if we are to eliminate the scourge of female feticide and iniquity towards girl children from our society, the bench headed by Justice Mohan M. Shantanagoudar said while upholding the Madhya Pradesh High Court order dismissing the anticipatory bail application filed by an accused.

The accused was charged under relevant provisions of Indian Penal Code, Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act, 1971 and under the provisions of the Pre Conception and Pre­ Natal Diagnostic Techniques (Regulation and Prevention of Misuse) Act, 1994 for allegedly conducting the illegal medical practices of sex determination and sex­ selective abortion.

While dismissing the Special Leave Petition, the bench, also comprising Justices Vineet Saran and Ajay Rastogi, referred to the legislative history of the PC&PNDT Act. The court said that the Act was compelled by a cultural history of preference for the male child in India, rooted in a patriarchal web of religious, economic and social factors. Referring to various reports regarding the criminal cases filed under the Act, the bench said that these pernicious practices still remain rampant. It observed:

"The unrelenting continuation of this immoral practice, the globally shared understanding that it constitutes a form of violence against women, and its potential to damage the very fabric of gender equality and dignity that forms the bedrock of our Constitution are all factors that categorically establish pre­natal sex-­determination as a grave offence with serious consequences for the society as a whole."

The court noted that, in the instant case, the investigative team has seized the sonography machine and made out a strong prima­facie case against the accused. The court also said that the material on record suggests that she had a more active role in conducting the alleged illegal medical practices of sex determination and sex­-selective abortion. From the residence, an ultrasound machine with no registration or license, adopter and gel used in sex­-determination, and other medical instruments used during abortion and sex­-determination were seized, the bench noted.

While dismissing the appeal, the court said:

No leniency should be granted at this stage as the same may reinforce the notion that the PC&PNDT Act is only a paper tiger and that clinics and laboratories can carry out sex-­determination and feticide with impunity. A strict approach has to be adopted if we are to eliminate the scourge of female feticide and iniquity towards girl children from our society. "


CASE: REKHA SENGAR VERSUS STATE OF MADHYA PRADESH [SPECIAL LEAVE PETITION (CRIMINAL) NO. 380 OF 2021]
CORAM: Justices Mohan M. Shantanagoudar, Vineet Saran and Ajay Rastogi
COUNSEL: Adv Sakshi Vijay, AoR Triloki Nath Razdan
CITATION: LL 2021 SC 51

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