The Board advises the Central government on policy matters relating to use of pre-natal diagnostic techniques, sex selection techniques and against their misuse

Concerned over the sharp decline in the child sex ratio as reflected in the provisional Census figures, the Centre on Saturday reconstituted the Central Supervisory Board set up under the Pre-conception & Pre-natal Diagnostic Techniques Act, 1994 (PC & PNDT Act).

Chaired by the Union Minister for Health and Family Welfare and co-chaired by the Minister of Women and Child Development, the Board consists of ex-officio members; 10 non official members — two each from five categories of medical geneticists, gynaecologists and obstetricians, paediatricians, social scientists and representatives of women welfare organisations; three women Members of Parliament (two from the Lok Sabha and one from the Rajya Sabha); four members to be appointed by the Centre by rotation to represent the States and the Union Territories.

The new Board will have 35 members including Ghulam Nabi Azad, Union Minister of Health & Family Welfare as the chairperson; Krishna Tirath, Minister of State (Women & Child Development) as Co-Chair; K. Chandramouli, Union Health and Family Welfare Secretary; R.K. Srivastava, Director-General, Health Services; joint secretary & legal adviser, Ministry of Law & Justice; Adviser (Ayurveda), Department of AYUSH, and joint secretary (PNDT) as the member-secretary.

Review meet

The first meeting of the reconstituted Board is likely to be held in the last week of May. Prior to that, a review meeting of State Health Secretaries has been scheduled for April 20 for an in-depth review of the implementation of the PC & PNDT Act and to chalk out a concerted action plan to check the practice of sex selection leading to female foeticide.

The non-official members include representatives from non-governmental organisations working in the field of women's health, gynaecologists and obstetricians, social scientists, paediatricians, and health experts. The three women MPs on the Board will be Prabha Kishore Taviad, Poonamben Veljibhai Jat and Mabel Rebello.

Special invitees

Special invitees will be representatives of the Indian Radiological & Imaging Association; the Indian Medical Association; State governments; Brinda Karat, MP; member-secretary of the National Commission for Women; Neelam Singh, advocate, Supreme Court of India, and UNFPA Representative in India.

The Board advises the Centre on policy matters relating to use of pre-natal diagnostic techniques, sex-selection techniques and against their misuse; review and monitor implementation of the Act and rules made under it and recommend to the Union government changes in the said Act and rules. It also helps to create public awareness against the practice of pre-conception sex selection and pre-natal determination of sex of foetus; lays down code of conduct to be observed by persons working at genetic counselling centres, laboratories and clinics; and oversees the performance of various bodies constituted under the Act and take appropriate steps to ensure its proper and effective implementation.

More comprehensive

In order to check female foeticide, the Pre-natal Diagnostic Techniques (Regulation and Prevention of Misuse) Act, 1994 was brought into operation from January 1, 1996. The Act was amended to make it more comprehensive and was renamed “Pre-conception and Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques (Prohibition of Sex Selection) Act, 1994.” The main objective of the Act is to ban the use of sex selection techniques before or after conception as well as misuse of pre-natal diagnostic techniques for sex-selective abortions and to regulate such techniques, so as to pre-empt the misuse of such technologies and consequent adverse impact on the sex ratio.

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