Context: Recently, the Supreme Court 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.
More on news:
- 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.
- 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.
- This will result in misuse of technology by unscrupulous individuals who will no longer be deterred by the monitoring mechanism provided in the Rules.
Pre-Conception and Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques Act,1994
It was enacted in 1994 and amended in 2003, to arm the state to wage a war against the pernicious practice of sex selection before or after conception.
- The main purpose of enacting the act is to ban the use of sex selection techniques before or after conception and prevent the misuse of prenatal diagnostic technique for sex selective abortion.
- Offences under this act include
- Conducting or helping in the conduct of prenatal diagnostic technique in the unregistered units.
- Sex selection on a man or woman, conducting PNDT test for any purpose other than the one mentioned in the act.
- Sale, distribution, supply, renting etc. of any ultrasound machine or any other equipment capable of detecting sex of the foetus.
- Any person who puts an advertisement for pre-natal and pre-conception sex determination facilities in the form of a notice, circular, label, wrapper or any document, or advertises through interior or other media in electronic or print form or engages in any visible representation made by means of hoarding, wall painting, signal, light, sound, smoke or gas, can be imprisoned for up to three years and fined Rs. 10,000.
- The Act mandates compulsory registration of all diagnostic laboratories, all genetic counselling centres, genetic laboratories, genetic clinics and ultrasound clinics.
- The act was amended in 2003 to improve the regulation of the technology used in sex selection. The Act was amended to bring the technique of pre conception sex selection and ultrasound technique within the ambit of the act.
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