Friday, August 19, 2022

Supreme Court to hear PIL seeking stricter compliance with PNDT rules

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The Supreme Court will on Friday take up a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) filed seeking direction to the “Appropriate Authorities” at all levels (district and sub-district) for strict compliance of Rule 18-A (5)(vi) of the Pre-natal Diagnostic Techniques (Prohibition of Sex Selection) Rules, 1996 with further directions that any failure therein shall attract adverse consequences.

The PIL filed by Advocate Shobha Gupta further seeks directions to the appropriate authority for initiation of punishment/ penalty under Section 25 of the PNDT Act
against the offenders whoever contravene the Rule 18-A (5)(vi).

According to the PIL, after decades of fighting female mortality, even in the 21st century India, the highly masculine sex ratio has increased substantially in various rural and urban areas, in contrast to most other countries. In a nation where we worship women as Goddesses on one hand, and on the other take away their very right to life in the womb, even the smallest of inactions have massive consequences on the female mortality rate. Thus, the conditions at the moment require immediate judicial intervention.

“Though the Parliament has enacted the PNDT Act in 1994, its non-implementation has caused rendered provision to improve the declining female ratio useless.

Specifically, Section 18, A which has been violated by the concerned authorities, though the legislative intent stands that every acquittal under the PNDT Act, must be compulsorily appealed without any discretion of the appropriate authorities. But the concerned authorities failed to perform this legislative obligation placed upon them,” the PIL states.

The petition alleged that there is sharp decline in sex ratio in India. In 1901, where 972 females as against 1000 males were recorded. In 1961, it was recorded as 941, in 1971 it was 930, in 1981 it was reported 934, in 1991 it was 927, in 2001 it was 933 and in 2011, it was 943.

It is submitted in the petition that the Committee on Empowerment of Women (2021-2022) found that over the last 25 years, only 617 convictions were recorded out of 3158 Court Cases registered under PNDT Act and Rajasthan and Maharashtra which have recorded the lowest sex ratio at birth, 871 and 880 respectively, in 2016-18 are having the highest number of court cases/police cases pending i.e. 604 and 753 respectively.

It is pertinent to note that in Rajasthan, particularly cities neighbouring Gujarat, are also seeing steep decline in female ratio and majority of cases against the offenders are resulting in acquittals but the “Appropriate Authorities” are taking no action to prefer appeals/revisions there against though mandatorily required under Rules 18-A (5) (vi) (ibid).

The PIL highlights that the Judgment titled as Dr. Nitin Batra Vs. State of Uttarakhand & another on 20 July, 2020, the High Court observed that the sex ratio in Uttarakhand has not been encouraging.
In the year 2013-15, it was 844 females per thousand males, whereas, in the year 2012-14, it was 871 females per thousand males (Niti Aayog document) 2. Not only this, there have been discou-
raging reports, in one of which, it was noted that in 132 villages in one of the Districts of Uttarakhand, no girl was born in three months. These facts have been detailed just to understand as to what this law is all about. In view of decreasing sex ratio, the PCPNDT Act is framed.

To get an offender is not an easy task be-
cause the offences are done in secrecy and in collusion. One of the ways to trace the offender is by checking or examining records. The importance of these records has been further interpreted in the case of FOGSI (supra) , said the PIL.

“That this Hon’ble Court in “Voluntary Health Ass. Of Punjab Vs. Union of India &Ors. on 08.11.2016 issued directions that pro vision contained section 23 (2) shall be duly complied with and it shall be reported by authorities so that the State Medical Council takes necessary action after the intimation is given under the said 0 provision. And if there has been violation of any of the provisions
of the Act or the Rules, proper action has to be taken by the authorities under the Act so that the legally inapposite acts are immediately curbed,” the PIL reads.

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