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PCPNDT Act : Supreme Court Asks Union Govt To Inform State Steps Taken For Enforcement

Rintu Mariam Biju
5 Sep 2022 4:10 PM GMT
PCPNDT Act : Supreme Court Asks Union Govt To Inform State Steps Taken For Enforcement
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The Supreme Court of India on Friday asked the Union Of India to inform the steps it has taken to direct appropriate authorities for initiation of punishment/ penalty for violations under the provisions of the Pre-Conception and Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques Act, 1994 (PCPNDT Act) and related rules.The PCPNDT Act was enacted with the intent to prohibit prenatal diagnostic techniques...

The Supreme Court of India on Friday asked the Union Of India to inform the steps it has taken to direct appropriate authorities for initiation of punishment/ penalty for violations under the provisions of the Pre-Conception and Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques Act, 1994 (PCPNDT Act) and related rules.

The PCPNDT Act was enacted with the intent to prohibit prenatal diagnostic techniques for determination of the sex of the foetus, leading to female feticide.
A Bench of Chief Justice of India UU Lalit and Justice Ravindra Bhat passed this direction, while issuing notice to the Union of India in a petition filed by Advocate Shobha Gupta seeking to direct appropriate authorities to take proper legal action if anyone violates the provisions of the PCPNDT Act. Even though state governments were tagged along as respondents in the plea, the court restricted the issuance of notice to the Central government.
"Considering the nature of facts and circumstances in the case, we consider restricting the issuance of notice to the Union Government, the Secretary of Ministry of Health and Family Welfare. Response to be filed in 4 weeks. Response to include the undertaken by Union agencies relating to subject matter highlighted in the petition."
During the hearing, the advocate appearing for the petitioners argued that various provisions of the Act were not being executed effectively. She pointed to section 25 of the PCTNDT Act and to point out the various offences and penalties envisaged. Inspite of having the specific provision of punishment/penalty under the Act, the petition said that the offenders have not been booked for deliberate violation of the Rule 18-A (5)(vi).
The petition further states,
"Non-compliance of Rule 18-A(S)(vi) of the Pre-natal Diagnostic Techniques (Prohibition of Sex Selection) Rules, 1996 (for short the Rules) framed by the Central Government in exercise of powers under Section 32 of the Pre-natal Diagnostic Techniques (Prohibition of Sex Selection) Act, 1994 (for short PNDT Act) and upon approval by the Parliament published in the Gazette of India dated 1.1.1996."
The petition also submitted that the Child Sex Ratio has been declining in the country since 1961. While drawing statistics from various states, the petitioner argued before the Bench that conviction numbers were quite low
"There has been a dismal performance in filing of appeals. Far more acquittals than convictions are happening".
On this issue, the petition stated that,
"Regretfully, the Appropriate Authorities are religiously violating the above bounden duty cast on them by the statute. There are large-scale acquittals but the Appropriate Authorities, particularly in Gujarat and Rajasthan, Punjab, as per data available on the website, have not preferred even a single appeal against order of acquittals.
The possibility of similar inaction by Appropriate Authorities in other States/UTs cannot be completely ruled out, the petition added.
"The PNDT Act is a social welfare legislation with a social objective to prevent elimination of girls in the womb and it is not a general law providing any general right to practice medicine and hence this Hon 'ble Court in the case "Federation of obstetrics and Gynecological societies of India (FOGS!) Vs Union of India and ors ., 2019 SCC, refused to strike down section 23…"
The petition was filed through Advocate-on-Record, Mr. M.C. Dhingra. 
Case Title: Shobha Gupta & Anr v UOI & Ors | W.P.(C) No. 301/2022


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