Sex-determination of foetus leads to misogyny, gender inequality: Delhi High Court issues directions for strict implementation of PCPNDT Act

Team SoOLEGAL 28 Apr 2023 9:38am

Sex-determination of foetus leads to misogyny, gender inequality: Delhi High Court issues directions for strict implementation of PCPNDT Act

New Delhi: The Delhi High Court issued a number of directives to agencies on Monday to ensure the effective and stringent application of the Pre-Conception and Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques Act, 1994 (PCPNDT Act).

Justice Swarana Kanta Sharma issued the directives, emphasising that abortion based on sex determination is a strong technique for perpetuating gender inequities.

The bench observed that "sex-determination based abortion is a powerful method of perpetuating gender inequalities. The restriction of access to foetal sex information is directly related to the problem of misogyny, which affects women of all socioeconomic backgrounds not only in this country but globally as well. The purpose of controlling knowledge of sex or gender is to protect expectant women and their unborn child."

The Court also stated that the PCPNDT Act had a favourable influence to some extent in fostering fear of sex-determination tests, but the necessity for a secure womb for a female embryo was another issue addressed by this Act, and that goal is yet to be fully realised.

The court further noted that "the offences under this Act, which are proposed to be curbed, give rise to dual violence, i.e., against the unborn female child and against the mother by putting her in health danger by forcing her to undergo abortions. Needless to say, a woman will be forced to undergo an abortion in case she has a female child in her womb only when an illegal sex-determination test is conducted." 

As a result, it stated that the contents of the PCPNDT Act and Rules be brought to the attention of District Appropriate Authorities, Investigation Officers, and Prosecutors regarding specific mandatory provisions of Section 28 of the Act and the procedure to be followed in ensuring that a complaint is filed under the Act.

The Court directed that efforts be made by the Central and State governments to ensure clarity among appropriate authorities about their duties and powers in order to ensure effective compliance with the mandate of the PCPNDT Act and better communication among authority officials.

The Court further said that it would be appropriate if online portals and websites were created for lodging complaints and to notify and inform the general public about the procedure, place, and mechanism to lodge such a complaint.

"The constitution of the appropriate authority, their contact details, including the e-mail ID and phone numbers, where a complaint can be made, be also mentioned at specific conspicuous places in all the hospitals and clinics, where the facility for ultrasonography or other pre-natal diagnostic techniques are available or are being carried out, or any other place deemed appropriate by the concerned authorities of the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare and the Ministry of Law and Justice to ensure that the common person is not misled to file a complaint with an inappropriate authority not competent to ensure action on a complaint."

The Court directed that its observations and directions be delivered to the Union Ministries of Law and Justice, Health, and Family Welfare, as well as the Delhi government, Delhi Police, and the Director (Academics), Delhi Judicial Academy.

Justice Sharma gave the orders after refusing to dismiss a FIR filed against a man named Manoj Krishna Ahuja under several provisions of the PCPNDT Act.

The Court, however, annulled the trial court's cognizance since there was no complaint submitted by the appropriate authority under Section 28 of the Act. The court ruled that the same was illegal under the law. 

Tagged: Sex-determination  
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