A Public Interest Litigation (PIL) has been filed in the Supreme Court seeking direction to the Central Government to frame stringent and effective rules regulations and guidelines to control population explosion in order to secure the important fundamental rights viz. right to clean air, right to clean water, right to health, right to peaceful sleep, right to shelter, right to livelihood, right to education, and right to dignity.
The PIL filed by Social Activist Amber Zaidi through Advocate Ashwani Kumar Dubey also seeks direction to the Center to ascertain the feasibility of making Two-Child Norm as a mandatory criterion for government jobs, aids, subsidies, right to vote, right to contest, and right to free shelter, etc and to declare First Sunday of every month as ‘ Population Control Day in place of ‘ Polio Day ‘ to spread awareness on population explosion and provide contraceptive pill, condoms, vaccines, etc. to EWS and BPL families, with polio vaccines.
In the alternative, the PIL seeks direction from the Law Commission of India to examine population control laws and policies of the developed countries and prepare a comprehensive report within three months.
According to the Petition, on 12.12.2020 in a written reply in Top Court, Health Ministry said that the Center is against forcing family planning and won’t take coercion action. It is necessary to state that “Population Control and Family Planning” is part of List – III of Seventh Schedule ( Entry 20A ) hence Center can make stringent rules – regulations to control population explosion but it has not taken appropriate steps to enact a stringent law till date.
The Petitioner submitted that the injury caused to citizens’ particularly women is extremely large. The perils of population explosion on the economy and its ramifications are often discussed. But, the impact that repeated childbearing has on a woman is seldom highlighted outside the niche areas.
“Incidence of grand multiparity, which is defined as more than 4 viable births, in developing countries like India is 20 % while it is only 2 % in developed countries. The ill effects of repeated pregnancies both on the women and the newborns are devastating. In India, malnutrition – anemia is rampant in expecting mothers. This becomes worse with repeated pregnancies jeopardizing their health and leading to further adverse pregnancy outcomes. There is an increased risk of abortions also in such mothers. Mothers become more prone to infections with repeated pregnancies”, the Petition alleged.
It is argued that the risk of complications during delivery such as cord prolapse, post-dated pregnancy, labor induction, instrumental deliveries, assisted vaginal deliveries and cesarean sections are also higher. Grand multiparity is itself a risk factor both for antepartum hemorrhage that is bleeding before the onset of labor and postpartum hemorrhage, which is increased bleeding after childbirth.
The Petition stated that such women also suffer from more genital tract injuries including rupture of the uterus sometimes leading to hysterectomy ( surgical removal of the womb ). Overall it results in mothers having a longer stay in the hospital, more blood transfusions, more frequent admissions to Intensive care units ( ICU ), and even increased deaths. The harmful effects of multiple pregnancies are seen not only in mothers but also in babies who are born to such mothers. These babies may be premature, or of low birth weight ( < 2.5 kg ), and may have poor outcomes as indicated by low “Appearance, Pulse, Grimace Activity, and Respiration.” (APGAR0 score.
“Sometimes they have a large fetal size that leads to increased birth trauma. There is also an increased incidence of congenital anomalies in such babies. More newborns need admissions to ICU arising due to fetal distress, abnormal CTG, or sometimes even stillbirths and increased perinatal mortality “, said the Petition
It is highlighted in the PIL that the deleterious effects of multiple pregnancies are not only limited to the said medical conditions. These women spend the most productive – active years of their lives performing the task of childbearing and breastfeeding. With a lesser number of children, they can pursue their hobbies, dreams and may be able to move towards a better quality of life. A decreased pregnancy load would not only help them achieve their full potential but can also lead to the upliftment of their families.
The Petitioner mentioned that In order to maintain a higher standard of living people prefer to have a small family. According to the survey, those who earn less than Rs. 100 per month have on average a reproduction rate of 4 children and those earning more than Rs. 300 per month have a reproduction rate of 3 children._Self – control is the best powerful method to control the population. It is an ideal and healthy approach and people should be encouraged to follow._It helps in reducing the birth rate. This method implies family by choice and not by 1 chance. By applying preventive measures, people can regulate the birth rate. This method is being used extensively; The success of this method depends on the availability of cheap contraceptive devices for birth control. The birth rate will likely to fall if there are different recreational facilities – cinema; theater, sports, dance, etc. are available to people.
“It is indeed heartening that India’s population growth has come down. However, a strong and effective population control law on the lines of China is the need of the hour. More emphasis needs to be laid on women’s education and health. They are the foundation for future generations. If they are physical – mentally fit, confident independent, they can bring a paradigm change in the society”, read the Petition.
It is pertinent to note that in June last this year a Public Interest Litigation has been filed in the Apex Court by Firoz Bakht Ahmed, Chancellor of Maulana Azad National Urdu University, seeking direction to the Union of India to frame effective rules regulations, and guidelines to control population explosion and to ascertain the feasibility of making Two-Child Law as a criterion for government jobs, aids and subsidies, right to vote, right to contest, right to property, right to free shelter, etc.
Earlier, the Supreme Court has allowed a plea to make the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare a party to a PIL that has sought certain steps, including the two-child norm, to control the country’s growing population. A bench of Justice Sanjiv Khanna passed the directions on May 7 on the plea filed by BJP leader and lawyer Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay.