Saturday, September 30, 2023

Uproar as Centre lifts ban on sex tests

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The Ministry of Health And Family Welfare, Government of India on Saturday issued a notification thereby declaring the implementation of few provisions of Pre-Conception & Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques (Prohibition of Sex Selection) Rules 1996 as suspended till 30th of June.

These rules whose suspensions have been declared are Rule 8, 9(8) & 18A (6) due to the outbreak of pandemic COVID-19. The notification states that “The unprecedented scenario due to COVID-19 pandemic outbreak has made compliance of Rule 8, Rule 9(8) and Rule 18A (6) of the Pre-Conception & Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques (Prohibition of Sex Selection) Rules 1996 difficult, leading to the necessity of issuing this notification, which will have retrospective effect i.e. from the date of the lockdown, till June 30, 2020.”

Rule 8 provides for the renewal of the certificate of registration by the Appropriate Authority on a due application made along with the requisite fees. Rule 9(8) mandates that every Genetic Counselling Centre, Genetic Laboratory, Genetic Clinic, Ultrasound Clinic and Imaging Centre shall send a complete report in respect of all pre-conception or pregnancy related procedures/techniques/tests conducted by them in respect of each month by 5th day of the following month to the concerned Appropriate Authority. Similarly, rule 18A (6) provides that the Appropriate Authority shall send quarterly reports to the Government and to maintain full information of registrations.

The suspension of these rules has raised many concerns about the potential misuse of the law and may also give rise to the illegal practice of sex determination across country. So far, the union government has not answered about the concerned raised by leaders of opposition parties and activists.

Brinda Karat, member of CPI(M) has written a letter to the government asking that when all meetings of professional bodies are being held through the use of technology, why should the authorities under the PCPNDT Act come in for special consideration to exempt such meetings? She also said, there was no urgent reason to suspend the rules. No other rules under any other act have been so suspended. It is questionable whether the ministry has the powers to arbitrarily suspend rules placed before parliament and demanded withdrawal of the notification.

India Legal Bureau

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