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Population Control- Any Coercion To Have Specific Number Of Children Is Counter-Productive, Leads To Demographic Distortions: Centre Tells Supreme Court

Mehal Jain
13 Dec 2020 6:31 AM GMT
Population Control- Any Coercion To Have Specific Number Of Children Is Counter-Productive, Leads To Demographic Distortions: Centre Tells Supreme Court
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"The family welfare programme in India is voluntary in nature which enables couples to decide the size of their family and of the family planning methods, best suited to them...In fact, international experience shows that any coercion to have a certain number of children is counter-productive and leads to demographic distortions", the Centre has asserted in its affidavit before the...

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"The family welfare programme in India is voluntary in nature which enables couples to decide the size of their family and of the family planning methods, best suited to them...In fact, international experience shows that any coercion to have a certain number of children is counter-productive and leads to demographic distortions", the Centre has asserted in its affidavit before the Supreme Court.

Filing its response to a petition filed by BJP leader and lawyer, Ashwani Kumar Upadhyay seeking enactment of law to control population and enforce family planning, the MoHFW avers that the Programme of Action of the International Conference on Population and Development, 1994, to which India is a signatory is unequivocally against coercion and family planning.

Moreover, it is urged that India is witnessing a constant decline in the total fertility rate. The wanted fertility in India as per National Fertility Health Survey-4 is only 1.8 as against the actual fertility of 2.2 prevailing earlier indicating thereby that couples on an average do not want more than two children. Also, as many as 25 out of 36 states and union Territories have already achieved the replacement level fertility of 2.1 or less. Furthermore, Census 2001-2011 is the first to decide in the last hundred years, the country has not only added lesser population as compared to the previous one but also registered the sharpest decline in the decadal growth rate from 21.54% in 1991 to 2001 to 17.64% in 2001 to 2011.

"Public health is a state subject being listed at Entry 6 of List II of Schedule Seven in the Constitution. The Ministry is of the view that the state government must lead the process of health sector reforms in a suitable and sustainable manner to protect the common individual from health hazards. Improvement in the health sector can be positively led by the state government with monitoring and specific intervention to control and regulate the implementation process of the guidelines and schemes in a proper perspective. The Centre only plays the supportive and facilitative role in achieving the health care reforms and outcomes. The Ministry is a mere facilitator for providing accessible, affordable healthcare through state-led reforms in the health sector. So far as the implementation of the guidelines and the schemes of the state is concerned, the Centre does not have any direct role. It is the prerogative of the respective state government to implement the schemes as per prescribed guidelines. The Ministry by way of allocating funds to state governments is facilitating implementation of approved schemes", it is stated.

The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare submits that India has adopted a comprehensive and holistic National Population Policy, 2000, clearly articulating the objective strategic themes and operational strategies. The National Health Policy of 2017 provides for policy guidance to inform, clarify, strengthen and prioritise the role of the government in shaping health systems in all its dimensions. The NHP sets out indicated, quantitative goals and objectives which includes the achievement of total fertility rate of 2.1 by 2025.

"Every year, in July, the World Population Day is celebrated across the country where family planning methods are promoted through a month-long campaign...The government has launched Mission Parivar Vikas to increase access to contraceptives and family planning services in 146 high-fertility districts...Under the Compensation Scheme for sterilisation accepter, the Ministry provides compensation for loss of wages to the beneficiaries...The Clinical Outreach Team scheme has been launched in the 146 Mission Parivar Vikas districts for providing family planning services through mobile teams...there are new contraceptive choices and redesigned contraceptive packaging...", the affidavit enumerates the steps being taken by the government to stabilise the population.

"The impact of the programmatic interventions is now beginning to yield dividends. At present, India is knocking at the door of achieving replacement level fertility and has made remarkable improvement in reducing maternal and child mortality. With commitment and perseverance, we can achieve the goal of population stabilisation and advancing the development goals of the country", it is asserted.


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