Why are crucial sex determination rules put on hold till June end, SC asks govt.

A view of the Supreme Court of India.  

The Supreme Court on Monday asked the government to explain its decision to suspend crucial rules of a parliamentary law against pre-natal sex determination and sex selection till June end, amid the COVID-19 national lockdown.

A Bench led by Justice U.U. Lalit issued formal notice to the government on a petition filed by Dr. Sabu Mathew George challenging an April 4 notification issued by the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare which put on hold the implementation of certain rules of the Pre-Conception and Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques (Prohibition of Sex-Selection Rules) of 1996 till June 30, 2020.

Mr. George, represented by senior advocate Sanjay Parikh, asked how the government could temporarily freeze rules framed under a parliamentary law through a mere notification.

The court told the petitioner to alert it if the government made any move to extend the suspension beyond June 30.

One of the suspended provisions, Rule 8, is intrinsically connected with the statute’s provisions dealing with the mandatory registration of genetic counselling centres, laboratories and clinics. Non-compliance leads to penalty.

“The Central government has arbitrarily and selectively weakened a legislation aimed at curbing the pernicious activity of sex-selection and sex-determination. The number of girls missing at birth due to the practice of gender biased sex selection in India has been estimated at 0.46 million girls per year for the period 2001-12 (which is 5.52 million girl children, missing at birth for the 12-year period), and the Pre-Conception and Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques (PCPNDT) Act and the Rules thereunder, are aimed at remedying this social evil,” the petition said.

By suspending the Rules, the government has diluted the PCPNDT Act, the petition said.

“This will result in misuse of technology by unscrupulous individuals who will no longer be deterred by the monitoring mechanism provided in the Rules,” it said.

“This illegal suspension of Rules, while medical establishments continue to function, will provide avenues for misuse of technology for purposes of sex-selection and sex-determination, and will result in a loss of the gains made in the strict implementation of the Act,” the petition argued.

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Printable version | Dec 5, 2021 1:58:51 PM |

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