THE Supreme Court on Monday refused to stay the notification by the Union Health Ministry that suspended the implementation of certain rules of Preconception and Pre-natal Diagnostic Techniques (Prohibition of Sex Selection) Rules, 1996 until 30.06.2020 in view of the emergency situation. The notification has suspended operation Rule 8 provides for re-registration of genetic lab, Rule 9(8) requires clinics to submit monthly reports of all tests conducted by it to appropriate authority, and Rule 18A(6) requires the appropriate authority to submit quarterly reports to the Government.
Sabu Mathew George, the petitioner, said that the notification was entirely without jurisdiction as the Pre-Conception and Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques Act, 1994 (the PCPNDT Act), does not give any powers for the suspension of the Rules made thereunder.
According to the plea, 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 a total of 5.52 million girl children, missing at birth for the 12-year period), and the PCPNDT Act and the Rules thereunder, are aimed at remedying this social evil. By suspending the Rules, the petitioner said, the Central Government has diluted the PCPNDT Act, and this will result in misuse of technology by unscrupulous individuals, who will no longer be deterred by the monitoring mechanism provided in the Rules.
“The action of the Central Government in suspending certain Rules under the PCPNDT Act, 1994, despite not having the power to do so, violates Article 14 and 21 of the Constitution, as (in addition to being without jurisdiction) the Central Government has arbitrarily and selectively weakened a legislation aimed at curbing the pernicious activity of sex-selection and sex-determination”, the petitioner said.
The court whilst refusing to stay the notification has issued notice to the Central Government and has listed the matter for final disposal in the third week of July.