Sex Determination and its Evils Discussing The Pre-Natal Diagnostic Technique Act of 1994
That being the reality the Divine Messenger told the people “If a girl is born to one among you
and instead of burying her alive, if he brings her up, without treating her unjustly and without
subordinating her to the boys, God promises Heaven to him.” Prophet’s Word in the Quran
Women have been subjugated in every strata of societal existence. Equality and symbolic representation of women were historically farfetched in every field. Yet history shows that revolution for an up gradation of women’s subordinated structure was rare to be seen and as a consequence the society has not changed its mind set on women. In today’s era of globalization and technological advancement, women’s positions have not bettered at all. The insult and injury that a girl child has to bear in the family is humiliating, and her journey to the descent to hell continues. What is more appalling is the legislator’s view which has not helped a woman come out of that boundary- the place of insult and depression has not undergone any metamorphosis. A girl child is thought of as a wastage, a liability which people want to dispose of completely so that the burden can be nipped in the bud at its very inception. In this backdrop, my article concentrates on the legal interventions called the Pre- Natal Diagnostic Techniques Act of 1994 and details the complexities of this act discussing the prohibition of sex determination of the foetus in the mother’s womb especially in the highly patriarchal society. The larger aim of this article emphasizes on the immediate necessity to stop this illegal act in India thereby leading to the betterment of women’s society. In seventh century Arabia, the majority of the idols among the polytheists and idolaters of those times were Goddesses who were believed to be God’s daughters. The angels too were also believed to be god’s daughters. Though God the Almighty was thought to have daughters who descended upon the universe as Goddesses, human beings hated to possess female children of their own. They feared the birth of daughters because that would lead to poverty and loss of reputation. Since its very inception, women were subjugated in every phase of society; they were seen as a sexual gratification or an object of pleasure- loving and leering; their contribution in the overall development in society was considered irrelevant, because they were conceived of as only sexual objects. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights states “All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights”. Irrespective of such international conventions, the subordination of women through various indecent, unethical immoral practices is on the rise and continues to inhibit the growth of society as a whole. As history has shown time and again, what is more striking with the entire notion of subjugation is that these heinous acts are often carried out by the members of the subordinated gender itself—the women. The Constitution of India which has been quarried from the mines of various International conventions, protects the equality of law to every citizen irrespective of the gender of the citizen, yet the implementation of the laws of the Indian Constitution is not effective and satisfactory.
As Dr. Ritu Juneja has rightly pointed out, “In India, women’s status is manifested in practices such as veiling (Purdah or Goonghghat), pressures to get young girls married at a very early age, partly to ensure their virginity and partly to ensure compliance with parents’ wishes and respect the choice of spouse.” Denying or limiting educational or employment opportunities to girls, attaching differential values to sons and daughters, restricting the ability to control the women’s fertility by pressuring them to produce children (especially male heirs), restricting their access to information and economic and health resources are some of the other societal pressures induced on women in India. The general trend as seen from time immemorial has been that women take their position at the end of the social hierarchy, for all pleasures and privileges but remain in the forefront of deprivation. The father of a five year old girl in a posh Kolkata locality says, “What’s the use of bringing up a girl child, if it amounts to watering the plants in another man’s garden”. Another man in the same locality takes pride that his wife has given birth to four male children consecutively. He admits in Bengali, “A mother of hundred male children should be respected always”. This is the view of the present living male as well as female populations in India. This gives me a view that though there is an advancement of technology through evolution and other processes, this country still wallows in the primordial slime of misogyny or a man’s inhumanity to woman.
Most of the society still practices taboos, which severely curtails the physical mobility of women and undermines their self-esteem, thus circumscribing their entire existence in essentially repressive ways. Dowry deaths as a phenomena continue to proliferate throughout every nook and corner of the country. Female infanticide reportedly is on the rise and female foeticide has emerged as a phenomenon which cuts across caste, class, race and educational backgrounds in India.
The cultural devaluation of women has been so totally ingrained in minds of men and women that it has led to ‘self deprecation’ or ‘negation of the self’ by women. In our patriarchal society this cultural devaluation has been transformed into feelings of worthlessness, inferiority and subordination in women. To be a woman in India, for the vast multitude of the population means to constantly embody and live as even more inferior than the “second sex”. It is this negation of the self and low image of women which makes them unashamedly resort to female foeticide in order to achieve their desired family compositions and structures. Female foeticide is not only confined to the borders of India, it transcends the boundaries of the other countries too. Some of the neighbouring countries which witness an alarming rise of female foeticide are Pakistan, Bangladesh and China. A number of significant analyses of some renowned sociologists addressing the problems of prenatal conclude that the preferences for male or female children are not to any extent dependant on the economic considerations. Nevertheless, it is a common observation, that couples in western societies prefer children of both the sexes. The idea behind such an egalitarian view is enumerated by the famous Medical sociologist Lori Freedman, who says that western society is well aware of the differential roles that boys and girls play in the family, apart from any economic consideration. As a result the preference is not entitled against any particular sex and the balance of sex ratio has been maintained throughout.
With this brief discussion of the social setting, let me outline the aim of this article. This article details the complexities of the Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques (PNDT) Act of 1994, discussing the prohibitions of sex determination of the foetus in the mother’s womb, especially in the highly patriarchal society of India. The larger aim of this article, through a historical study of sex determination in the country, is to emphasize the immediate necessity to stop this illegal process in India, which can lead to betterment of women’s conditions in society. The article also harps on the need to implement the PNDT Act more rigorously and stringently in India, than is at present done.
A Historical Study of Sex Preferences in India
The sex preferences in India can be historically attributed to the following major reasons, namely:
Ø Sex Roles Differentiation: The obsession for a son is a strongly structural and cultural affliction of Indian society. The preference for a male child is so predominant in the Indian society that people are willing to sacrifice their ethics and morals without any undue anxiety. The preference for a male child in Indian society has been well studied and observed. A study on the context of ‘value of sons’ in the interiors of Maharashtra shows that aged women, once widowed, have historically depended wholly on the earning of their sons. They have this perception that sons add motivational value to their growth and contribute for the development and prosperity. Various case studies on this observation point out discriminating features and extent of variability in different states of India. To cite an example, Punjab and Haryana, the granaries of India, are victim to one of the most widely subjugated and subordinated conditions of women in the state, through acts of rampant female foeticide and infanticide. Such incidences in Punjab and Haryana are far more frequent compared to Maharashtra or Kerala. As Prof. Monica Dasgupta points out, “The sex bias in Punjabi society seems to be determined more by the structure of rights of asset ownership and decision making, which severely restrict women from providing economics and other support to their parents.” The conditions of women of various communities in the pre-colonial and colonial eras had been devastating. The community was deprived of equality in every field. Ill-treatment, abuse, physical and mental trauma have been the common features of this section of the society. Ancient law-giver Manu was apprehensive with the concept of equality of both sexes in the context of property devolution and adoption. He said that if women were given equal rights in inheritance law, the joint family system would start breaking up and eventually get segregated, thereby contradicting the rules and customs of the Hindu society. The Yajnavalkaya Smriti conforms to Manu’s assertion, blatantly asserting the understanding of the Hindu scholars to be true. It also adheres to the welfare of the traditional society of India enriched in culture and sociological dynamism. Another Hindu scholar confessed that the pre-constitutional era and its customs with varied culture had a clandestine notion of women subjugation in the name of joint family system. He further added that the male dominated society in the ancient times did not guarantee economic independence to the women community, and thereby prohibited them to be simultaneously at par with the other sections of the society. They believed in infliction of pain, torture and were averse to giving momentum and space to the ‘dominated group’. Some of them proudly admitted that womanhood and struggles are synonymous terms from time immemorial. We as human beings have completely failed to respect and comprehend the institutions of womanhood which is the most sacrosanct and cherished establishment of the Almighty, because of the deep rooted male egoism, which in turn has a detrimental impact of impairing and inhibiting opulence, development and growth of human values.
Ø Low Self- Image of Women: Some important landmark studies on the girl child were completed in 1994 under the Department of Women and Child Development, Ministry of Human Resources Development, Government of India. One of the main objectives of these studies was to assess the status of girls within the family in order to predict the position of women of the present century. The findings on socialization of the girls revealed that the birth of a girl child was desired and celebrated by a mere 2% of the families. The report observed, “If there is one cultural trait that cuts across barriers of religion, region and caste, it is the devaluation of the girl child.” As mentioned earlier, the devaluation of a girl child in present day India is manifested in practices such as female foeticide. Female foeticide is a reflection of the woman’s negation of self. The decision to resort to sex determination tests and female foeticide thereafter is many a times, taken by the women themselves. These women exhibit their control over their fertility by deciding when to have a male child. They use reproductive technologies like Ultra Sono Graphy (USG) and abortion not to prevent multiple pregnancies which ruin their health but to kill the female foetus once its sex can be illegally determined. This exercise of their reproductive right is a dismal indicator of their low self-esteem and the hatred and fear of daughters being born to them. The fact that women are indulging in such self-deprecating practice implies that they have internalized the cultural devaluation through their socialization. Thus socialization is the mechanism through which the women acquire the cultural ideas and values which shape their image of themselves and their visions of the future. Sensitivity towards the contradictions in norms and values presented to them and towards the limits within which they have to function is acquired during socialization. Being born female is generally likely to have negative characteristics attributed.
Tracing the History of the Passing of the Pre Natal Diagnostics Technique Act of 1994.
There were efforts to terminate and eradicate female infanticide from India during the British rule, through inculcating proper education amongst the people of India. Kathiawar and Kutchch were the foremost runners wherein the British started to stem the eradication of this social evil. In the year 1808, Alexander Walker, the Chief Resident of Baroda, tried to encourage the chiefs of different clans to renounce this evil practice of killing infants. Penalty was imposed on all those heads of the states who opposed the orders of the authority. An Infanticide Fund was also set up to defray marriage expenses. The expenses involved in the celebration of a daughter’s marriage including an exorbitant dowry, were the main reasons to discourage the birth of girl children in the family.
Walker started this initiative of awarding people who valued the female child. These were however not policy measures, but the individual enterprise taken by a British administrator. Different administrators thought of newer measures to combat this issue. For instance, Assistant Resident Willoughby set up an elaborate network of informers and used to levy punitive fines and incarcerate practitioners of family infanticide.
The British were forced to declare female infanticide a criminal offence due to its persistent recurrence. There was already a regulation in the North West Provinces in the early 19th century making female infanticide a cognizable and punishable criminal offence. The first serious steps in this regard were taken in the Punjab province where the cause of infanticide was diagnosed as intense factional rivalry. It was in Punjab that the first marriage exchanges or bureaus were established as a consequence.
Special Act of 1870
In 1870, John Strachey modelled his famous Bill against Female Infanticide on these Punjab regulations, which was made applicable in the North West Frontier Province, the Punjab and Oudh. This bill, which came to be called the Special Act of 1870, suggested an enlarged police force, increased surveillance, regular and thorough census and restrictions on marriage expenses.
After a comprehensive census in 1872, it was decided that those clans which had a proportion of girls less than 40 percent of the total population will be declared guilty of the crime of female infanticide. Clans which had a percentage of girls below 25 percent of the population were declared very guilty. These punitive provisions turned out to be very effective in practice. By 1905, the governments of the United Provinces, Agra and Oudh (formerly the North Western Frontier Province) were of the opinion that the Special Act of 1870 was no longer needed since ‘one of the worst social crimes had been stamped out’. The Act was finally withdrawn in the year 1906.
Present Law On Infanticide
Article 6 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child provides that the state shall recognize that every child has the inherent “right to life”. It also casts the duty upon the state to ensure to the maximum extent, the survival and development of the child. Article 21 of the Constitution of India provides that every person shall have the right to life. This would include an infant as well. Thus these together entrust upon the state to take all measures possible to protect the life of every child. In most circumstances, the crime of female infanticide, mostly carried out by the family and my third persons like a dai, goes unreported and there seems to be an unwritten social sanction for this evil practice. The generally higher rate of infant and foetus mortality in India aggravates the problem of detection of the crime. Only a stricter and harsher enforcement of mandatory registration of births and deaths can make a dent into the problems.
Law on Foeticide
The Law on Miscarriage, Forced Abortions and Illegal Termination of Pregnancy has been strictly dealt with in the Indian Penal Code. Causing miscarriage, if it is not done in good faith in order to save the life of a woman, has been made an offence punishable with imprisonment of upto seven years. Various theories have proved that before the Indian Parliament enacted the Pre-natal Diagnostic Technique Act and the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act, infant baby daughters were killed mercilessly by her own family members.
Before the advent of technology it was a difficult job to determine the sex of the unborn until the final delivery took place. As a result, many complications, some closely related to chromosomal diseases, could be seen in the newborn, post the delivery. As medical science started to advance and enhanced technological advancements became apparent, the techniques used to diagnose the condition and sex of the child became more accessible and easy. One of the many pre-natal diagnostic techniques is called ‘aminocentitis’, intended to test and analyze the amniotic fluids, blood or any tissue of a pregnant woman for the purpose of detecting any gender or metabolic disorders, chromosomal abnormalities, congenital anomalies and sex linked diseases. Unfortunately, some doctors, under the pressure of some sections of the society, have illegally made use of the above medical techniques to determine the sex of the child growing inside the mother’s womb. The Parliament has realized the grave implications arising out of the misuse of the prenatal diagnostic techniques and passed the historic Pre Natal Diagnostic Techniques Act of 1994, which came into effect from January 1996.
The Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques (Regulation And Prevention Of Misuse) Act, 1994
This article discusses in detail the most important sections of the PNDT Act of 1994.
Section 2 of the PNDT Act of 1994 talks about the various definitions, which are as follows:-
· Genetic Counseling Centre: An institute, hospital, nursing home or any place, by whatever name called, which provides for genetic counseling to patients.
· Genetic Clinic: A clinic, institute, hospital, nursing home or any place, by whatever name called, which is used for conducting pre-natal diagnostic procedures.
· Genetic Laboratory: A laboratory and includes a place where facilities are provided for conducting analysis or tests of samples received from Genetic Clinic for pre-natal diagnostic test.
· Gynecologist: A person who possesses a post- graduate qualification in gynecology and Obstetrics.
· Medical Geneticist: A person who possesses a degree or diploma or certificate in medical genetics in the field of pre-natal diagnostic techniques or has experience of not less than two years in such field.
· Pre-natal Diagnostic Procedures: All gynecological or obstetrical or medical procedures such as ultrasonography, foetuscopy, taking or removing samples of amniotic fluid, chorionic villi, blood or any tissue of a pregnant woman for being sent to a Genetic Laboratory or Genetic Clinic for conducting pre-natal diagnostic test.
Section 3 of the PNDT Act of 1994 talks about the Regulation of Genetic Counseling Centres, Genetic Laboratories and Genetic Clinics , stating that: (1) No Genetic Counseling Centre, Genetic Laboratory or Genetic Clinic unless registered under this Act, shall conduct or associate with, or help in, conducting activities relating to pre-natal diagnostic techniques;
(2) They shall not employ any person who does not possess the prescribed qualifications;
(3) No medical geneticist, gynaecologist, paediatrician, registered medical practitioner or any other person shall conduct or cause to be conducted or aid in conducting by himself or through any other person, any pre-natal diagnostic techniques at a place other than a place registered under this Act.
Section 4 of the PNDT Act of 1994 talks about Regulation of pre-natal diagnostic techniques:
(1) No place including a registered Genetic Counseling Centre or Genetic Laboratory or Genetic Clinic shall be used or caused to be used by any person for conducting pre-natal diagnostic techniques except for the purposes mentioned above. (2) No pre-natal diagnostic techniques shall be conducted except for the purposes of detection of any of the following abnormalities, namely, chromosomal abnormalities, genetic metabolic diseases, haemoglobinopathies, sex-linked genetic diseases, congenital anomalies, any other abnormalities or diseases as may be specified by the Central Supervisory Board; (3) No PNDT shall be used or conducted unless the person qualified to do so is satisfied that any of the following conditions are fulfilled, namely that (i) age of the pregnant woman is above thirty-five years (ii) the pregnant woman has undergone of two or more spontaneous abortions or foetal loss (iii) the pregnant woman had been exposed to potentially teratogenic agents such as drugs, radiation, infection or chemicals (iv) the pregnant woman has a family history of mental retardation or physical deformities such as spasticity or any other genetic disease (v) any other condition as may be specified by the Central Supervisory Board;
Section 5 of the PNDT Act of 1994 talks about the Written Consent of Pregnant Woman and Prohibition of Communicating the Sex of Foetus. (1) No person referred to in clause (2) of section 3 shall conduct the pre-natal diagnostic procedures unless (a) he has explained all known side and after effects of such procedures to the pregnant woman concerned; (b) he has obtained in the prescribed form her written consent to undergo such procedures in the language which she understands; and (c) a copy of her written consent is given to the pregnant woman.
(2) No person conducting PNDT procedures shall communicate to the pregnant woman concerned or her relatives the sex of the foetus by words, signs or in any other manner.
Section 6 of the PNDT Act of 1994 prohibits the determination of sex, stating that no Genetic Counselling Centre or Genetic Laboratory or Genetic Clinic, or no person shall conduct or cause to be conducted in its Centre, Laboratory or Clinic, pre-natal diagnostic techniques including ultrasonography, for the purpose of determining the sex of a foetus.
Section 16 of the PNDT Act of 1994, talks about the functions of the Board, which shall consist of important dignitaries of the government as well as special doctors. The Board shall have the following functions, namely (i) to advise the Government on policy matters relating to use of pre-natal diagnostic techniques (ii) to review implementation of the Act and the rules made there under and recommend changes in the said Act and rules to the Central Government (iii) to create public awareness against the practice of pre natal determination of sex and female foeticide (iv)to lay down code of conduct to be observed by persons working at Genetic Counselling Centres, Genetic Laboratories and Genetic Clinics (v)any other functions as may be specified under the Act.
Section 18 of the PNDT Act of 1994, talks about the provisions of Registration of Genetic Counselling Centres, Genetic Laboratories or Genetic Clinics. One of the main provisions of this section says that no person shall open any Genetic Counselling Centre, Genetic Laboratory or Genetic Clinic after the commencement of this Act unless such Centre, Laboratory or Clinic is duly registered separately or jointly under this Act. Every Genetic Counselling Centre, Genetic Laboratory or Genetic Clinic engaged, either partly or exclusively, in counselling or conducting pre-natal diagnostic techniques for any of the purposes mentioned in section 4, immediately before the commencement of this Act, shall apply for registration within sixty days from the date of such commencement. Again, no Genetic Counselling Centre, Genetic Laboratory or Genetic Clinic shall be registered under this Act unless the Appropriate Authority is satisfied that such Centre, Laboratory or Clinic is in a position to provide such facilities, maintain such equipment and standards as may be prescribed.
Section 19 of the PNDT Act of 1994 states that the Certificate Of Registration shall be done by the appropriate authority after holding an inquiry and after satisfying itself that the applicant has complied with all the requirements of this Act and the rules made thereunder and having regard to the advice of the Advisory Committee in this behalf, grant a certificate of registration in the prescribed form jointly or separately to the Genetic Counselling Centre, Genetic Laboratory or Genetic Clinic, as the case may be. Secondly, if after the inquiry and after giving an opportunity of being heard to the applicant and having regard to the advice of the Advisory Committee, the Appropriate Authority is satisfied that the applicant has not complied with the requirements of this Act or the rules, it shall, for reasons to be recorded in writing, reject the application for registration.
Section 20 of the PNDT Act of 1994 gives emphasis on Cancellation or Suspension of Registration whereby:- (1) The Appropriate Authority may suo moto, or on complaint, issue a notice to the Genetic Counselling Centre, Genetic Laboratory or Genetic Clinic to show cause why its registration should not be suspended or cancelled for the reasons mentioned in the notice. (2) If, after giving a reasonable opportunity of being heard to the Genetic Counselling Centre, Genetic Laboratory or Genetic Clinic and having regard to the advice of the Advisory Committee, the Appropriate Authority is satisfied that there has been a breach of the provisions of this Act or the rules, it may, without prejudice to any criminal action that it may take against such Centre, Laboratory or Clinic, suspend its registration for such period as it may think fit or cancel its registration, as the case may be. (3) Notwithstanding anything contained in sub-sections (1) and (2), if the Appropriate Authority is, of the opinion that it is necessary or expedient so to do in the public interest, it may, for reasons to be recorded in writing, suspend the registration of any Genetic Counselling Centre, Genetic Laboratory or Genetic Clinic without issuing any such notice referred to in sub-section (1).
Section 21 of the PNDT Act of 1994 provides for provisions of Appeal, thus stating that the Genetic Counselling Centre, Genetic Laboratory or Genetic Clinic may, within thirty days from the date of receipt of the order of suspension or cancellation of registration passed by the Appropriate Authority under section 20, prefer an appeal against such order to either the Central government or the State government.
Section 22 of the PNDT Act of 1994 states that the following persons are Prohibited of advertisement relating to pre-natal determination of sex and punishment for contravention: (1) No person, organisation, Genetic Counselling Centre, Genetic Laboratory or Genetic Clinic shall issue or cause to be issued any advertisement in any manner regarding facilities of pre-natal determination of sex available at such Centre, Laboratory, Clinic or any other place. (2) No person or organisation shall publish or distribute or cause to be published or distributed any advertisement in any manner regarding facilites of pre-natal determination of sex available at any Genetic Counselling Centre, Genetic Laboratory, Genetic Clinic or any other place. (3) Any person who contravenes the provisions of sub-section (1) or sub-section (2) shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term which may extend to three years and with fine which may extend to ten thousand rupees.
Section 27 of the PNDT Act of 1994 states that all offence under this act shall be cognizable, non-bailable and non-compoundable.
Section 28 of the PNDT Act of 1994 talks about the Jurisdiction of the Court. Subsection 1 to this section says that no court shall take cognizance of an offence under this Act except, on a complaint made by—(a) the Appropriate Authority concerned, or any officer authorized in this behalf by the Central Government or State Government, as the case may be, or the Appropriate Authority or, (b) a person who has given notice of not less than thirty days in the manner prescribed, to the Appropriate Authority, of the alleged offence and of his intention to make a complaint to the court.
Voluntary Health Association of Punjab Vs. Union of India & Others
The Voluntary Health association of Punjab [VHAP], an NGO filed a writ petition in the Honorable Supreme Court of India in 2006 against Union of India and Others, for effective implementation of Preconception and Pre-natal Diagnostic Techniques (Prohibition of Sex Selection) Act, 1994. This was because, for one reason or the other, the practice of female infanticide still prevails, thus affecting overall sex ratio in various States where female infanticide is prevailing without any hindrance. The Parliament enacted the Prenatal Diagnostic Techniques (Regulation and Prevention of Misuse) Act, 1994. This Act was however not completely implemented. In particular, thousands of clinics were operating without registration. There was virtually no case of prosecution. On 31.3.03 the Act was been amended and titled as Preconception and Prenatal Diagnostic Techniques (Prohibition of Sex Selection) Act. This Act came into proper implementation in some of the states as well as no prosecution has taken place against the violators of the act.
The Honorable Supreme Court has given judgment, on the implementation of PCPNDT Act as follows:
· The Central Supervisory Board and the State and Union Territories Supervisory Boards, constituted under Sections 7 and 16A of PNDT Act, would meet at least once in six months, so as to supervise and oversee how effective is the implementation of the PNDT Act.
· The State Advisory Committees and District Advisory Committees should gather information relating to the breach of the provisions of the PC&PNDT Act and the Rules and take steps to seize records, seal machines and institute legal proceedings, if they notice violation of the provisions of the PC&PNDT Act.
· The authorities should ensure also that all Genetic Counselling Centers, Genetic Laboratories and Genetic Clinics, Infertility Clinics, Scan Centers etc. using preconception and pre-natal diagnostic techniques and procedures should maintain all records and all forms, required to be maintained under the Act and the Rules and the duplicate copies of the same be sent to the concerned District Authorities, in accordance with Rule 9(8) of the Rules.
· States and District Advisory Boards should ensure that all manufacturers and sellers of ultra-sonography machines do not sell any machine to any unregistered centre, as provided under Rule 3-A and disclose, on a quarterly basis, to the concerned State/Union Territory and Central Government, a list of persons to whom the machines have been sold, in accordance with Rule 3-A(2) of the Act.
· Steps should be taken by the State Governments and the Union Territories to educate the people of the necessity of implementing the provisions of the Act by conducting workshops as well as awareness camps at the State and District levels.
· The authorities concerned should take steps to seize the machines which have been used illegally and contrary to the provisions of the Act and the Rules there under and the seized machines can also be confiscated under the provisions of the Code of Criminal Procedure and be sold, in accordance with law.
· The various Courts in this country should take steps to dispose of all pending cases under the Act, within a period of six months. Communicate this order to the Registrars of various High Courts, who will take appropriate follow up action with due intimation to the Courts.
Female foeticide is a growing problem in the Indian context, and this article harps on the legal interventions to curb this social evil which has taken a detrimental turn in out socio-political milieu of the country. Procedures such as amniocentisis, CVS and all other tests for detection of genetic abnormalities can be banned. This is based on the principle that there should be no discrimination against a child (before or after it is born) on account of any disability, or on the basis of narrow and traditional patriarchal values and norms. Under article 2 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, a disabled child has as much of a right to be born as a normal child does. This policy will take care of the problem of female foeticide as well. If no detection of genetic abnormalities is allowed, the government will easily be in a position to control sex determination tests. This reminds me of a quote by the Father of the Nation:
“Women is the companion of man gifted with equal mental capacities. She has the right to participate in the minutest details, in the activities of man and has an equal right of freedom and liberty with him.”
· Ritu Juneja, “Women Resorting To Female Foeticide: Linking Their Negation Of The Self To Their Socialization”, Family Medicine, India
· Mamta Rao, “Law Relating to Women and Children”, Eastern Book Company, Lucknow, 2012
· “Handbook On Pre Conception And Pre Natal Diagnostic Technique Act And Rules With Amendments”
· S. Anandlakshmy, “The Girl Child and the Family: An Action Research Study”
· Monica Dasgupta, “Selective Discrimination Against Female Children in Rural Punjab, India” in ‘Population and Development Review’
· Dube, “Sociology of Kinship: An Analytical Survey of Literature”, Popular Prakashan, Bombay, 1998
· Andal Radhakrishnan, Shahrukh Alam and Diya Kapur, “Female Infanticide And Foeticide.”
· S. Coopersmith, “The Antecedents of Self Esteem”, San Francisco, 1967
· K.D. Gaur, “Indian Penal Code”.