Govt stand on sex selection ads irks apex court

Govt feels materials could be of use in medical education

Govt stand on sex selection ads irks apex court

The Supreme Court on Thursday took exception to the Centre's stand that blocking sex determination kit advertisements on global websites may not be “feasible and desirable”. 

The government felt those materials were intended not only for Indian citizens and could be of some help in medical education.

A bench of Justices Dipak Misra and U U Lalit asked the Union government to make an effort to find a legal solution for checking the advertisements on websites which was in violation of the law.

The court also expressed its concern over the “helplessness” shown by the government for checking such publicity materials being posted on Google, Yahoo and Microsoft websites against the provisions of the Pre-conception and Pre-natal Diagnostic Techniques (Prohibition of Sex Selection) Act, 1994.

“An effort has to be made to see that nothing contrary to laws of this country are advertised or shown on these websites,” the bench said and directed Solicitor General Ranjit Kumar to appear before the court on December 15 after taking help from competent officer as the issue was of technical nature.

Senior advocate Sanjay Parikh, appearing for Sabu Mathew George, a petitioner, submitted that the departments of information technology (IT), communication, and health and family welfare were required to work harmoniously to ensure that the provisions of the 1994 Act were not violated, affecting the sex ratio in the country.

The court, however, disapproved an affidavit filed by the IT department in August, 2010, stating that pre-natal sex determination was an offence in India but it may not be so in other countries.

“The information published on the websites is generally aimed at for wider, world wide dissemination and caters to the needs to many countries and may not be for the Indian citizens. Also, most of these websites are hosted outside the country. Blocking of such sites advertising pre-natal sex determination may not be feasible due to their hosting outside the country. Moreover, some of the websites provide good content for medical education and therefore blocking of such websites may not be desirable,” the government had said.

“As we understand from the affidavit, it reflects a kind of helplessness. That apart, we do not appreciate the manner in which the stand has been expressed,” the bench said, asking the government to find the solution to the issue.

The sex ratio in the country has been recorded as 940 women per 1000 males in 2014. The number of women have been gone below 900 against the males in different states with Haryana (857), Punjab (863), Uttar Pradesh (874), Delhi (884), Rajasthan (893), Jammu and Kashmir (895) and Maharashtra (896) being some of the lowest.

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