Dr Dwarika Prasad v. State of U.P. & Or


AFR
Judgmentreserved on 18.04.2013
Judgmentdeliveredon 17.05.2013
CivilMisc.Writ PetitionNo.21395of 2013
Dr Dwarika Prasad v. State of U.P. & Ors.
Hon. SunilAmbwani,J.
Hon. ManojKumarGupta,J.
1. We   have   heard   Shri   S.P.   Giri,   learned   counsel   for   the
petitioner.     Learned   Standing   Counsel   appears   for   the   State
respondents.
2. The   petitioner   is   a   qualified   and   registered   medial
practitioner.   He   also   claims   to   have   undergone   training   in
Ultrasonography   in   the   year   1997   at   Indian   College   of   Medical
Ultrasound,   which   is   running   basic   ultrasound   training   course   in
OBC  &  GYN  Sonography.   He   owns   Ultrasound   machine   and   is
providing   ultrasound   test   facilities   in   the   name   of   ‘Ashish
Ultrasound   and   X-rays   Center’   Hospital   Road   Padrauna   District
Kushi Nagar since 2003.
3. In   this   writ   petition  the   petitioner   has  prayed  for   quashing
the   order   dated   16.3.2013   passed   by   the   District   Magistrate/
Appropriate   Authority,   Kushi   Nagar   by   which   he   has   cancelled
License   No.01   dated   29.12.2006   granted   to   ‘Ashish   Ultrasound
and  X-rays Center Hospital Road  Padrauna  District Kushi Nagar’,
to   run   the   Ultrasound   Test   Center   on   the   grounds   that   the
petitioner  has  violated  the  provisions  of  Section  4  (3)   of  the  ‘Pre-Conception   and   Pre-Natal   Diagnostic   Techniques   (Prohibition   of
Sex and Selection) Act, 1994 (PC & PNDT Act, 1994) and Rule 9
(4) and Rule 10 (1-A) of the Rules framed under the Act.
4. It   is   stated   by   learned   counsel   for   the   petitioner   that   the
petitioner   is   running   Ultrasound   Centre   since   2003   without   any
complaintfromanyperson. Heis submitting statutoryreturns and
forms   to   the   satisfaction   of   the   registration   authority.     The
petitioner claimstobea highly qualified medical practitioner with
2
MBBS   (1968)   and   M.S.   (1971)   Degrees   and   experience   in
ultrasonography.     He   maintains   records   in   accordance   with   the
provisions   of   the   Act   and   the   Rules   and   has   published   a   public
notice   by   putting   up   a   board   in   front   of   his   clinic   that   there   is
restriction   of   diagnosis   for   sex   selection   by   ultrasound   machine,
which amounts to an offence.
5. It   is   submitted   that   a   news   report   was   published   by   Dr.
NeelamSingh, a gynecologist,an activist associated with ‘Save the
Girl Child’ reporting the sex ratio in Distt. Kushi Nagar is 694 girls
to 1000 boys, as against the national sex ratio of 940 girls to 1000
boys.     The   report   is   not   authentic   and   was   published   to   give   a
wrong information to the people of Distt. Kushinagar.    The report
is   also   highly   improbable   and   much   below   the   census   report   of
2011, which gives sex ratio of 955/1000.   The report published by
Dr.   Neelam   Singh   was   neither   seen   nor   placed   before   the
appropriate authorityparticularlybeforethe Advisory Board or the
Advisory   Committee.     The   district   administration   appears   to   be
falsely   alarmed   by   the   report   and   decided   to   take   action.     On
16.2.2013   the   Chief   Medical   Officer   and   the   Sub   Divisional
Magistrate,   Kushi   Nagar   inspected   the   petitioner’s   clinic   and
without  calling  for  any  explanation  from  the  petitioner  sealed  the
clinic   unauthorisedly   by   an   illegal   and   arbitrary   action.    A  show
cause  notice  was,   thereafter,   issued  to  the  petitioner  on  19.2.2013
referring   to   the   inspection   dated   16.2.2013,   seeking   his
explanation with regard to use of ultrasound machine in his clinic.
The   petitioner  submitted  his   reply  on  27.2.2013,   which   was   duly
received   by   the   District   Magistrate.     In   his   reply   the   petitioner
submitted   that   vague   allegations   have   been   levelled   against   him
that   he   has   not   complied   with   the   provisions   of   Section   4   (3),   9
(1),   9   (4)   and   10   (1-A)   of   the   PC  &  PNDT   Act,   1994   and   that
Form-F was not properly maintained.
6. It is submitted by learned counsel for the petitioner that the
petitioner  has  been  maintaining  all   the   forms  as  prescribed  under
3
the   Act   and   the   Rules,   and   as   a   qualified   and   registered   medical
practitioner   he   has   right   to   run   the   clinic.    The   entire   action   was
illegal, arbitrary and unjustified.
7. It is  further submitted  by learned  counsel  appearing  for the
petitioner   that   the   allegations   against   the   petitioner   are   only
confined  to  the  non-maintenance  of  the  records  under  Rule  9  and
10  of  the  PC  &  PNDT  Rules.     The  petitioner  had  not   only  given
detailed   reply   to   the   show  cause   notice   but   had   also   offerred   to
produce   the   entire   record.     The   petitioner   has   submitted   that   he
uses   ultrasound   machine   for   clinical   examination   of   the   patients
for diagnosis for stomach and other ailments.   The monthly report
is   sent   to   the   Chief   Medical   Officer   giving   the   date,   name,   age,
father/husband’s   name,   address,   name   of   the   referral   doctor   with
signature   or   thumb   mark   of   each   patient.     A   warning   is   also
published bythe petitioner on the noticeboard inhisclinic that the
ultrasound test is not used in the clinic for determination of sex.
8. The   petitioner   in   his   reply   dated   27.2.2013   prayed   for
withdrawing   the   notice,   return   of   the   records   and   to   deseal   his
clinic.     The   District   Magistrate,   however,   instead   of   considering
the reply after  giving  the  details  of  the  female  to male  ratio  in  the
district,   based   only   on   the   allegations   that   the   petitioner   is   not
maintaining   the   records   properly,   cancelled   the   license.     It   is
submitted that the order cancelling the license is founded upon the
facts  and figures of which notices were not  given  to  the petitioner
nor is  the petitioner responsible for  any sex determination  and the
abortions, which may  have reduced the sex ratio in  the  district.   It
is   submitted  that   the   sex  ratio  in   the   district  is   also  not   authentic
and could not have been used to cancel the petitioner’s license. The
petitioner   is   qualified   and   authorised   medical   practitioner.     His
fundamentalright toprofessionhas beenaffectedbyArt.19(1)(g)
of   the   Constitution   of   India   without   any   reasonable   basis   and
following due process of law.
4
9. We   have   examined   the   show  cause   notice   and   the   replies
submitted   by   the   petitioner   and   find   that   the   petitioner   has
admittedin para 4 of his reply that he did not submitreportson the
prescribed format (Form-F).  In para 5 of his reply dated 27.2.2013
the   petitioner   has   stated   that   the   Chief   Medical   Officer   did   not
inform  him  in  any  of  the  meeting  that   the  reports  have  to  be  sent
on  the   format   (Form-F).     The   office  of   the   Chief   Medical   officer
never objected to the submission of thereports by the petitioner on
thegroundthat theyarenot onthe prescribedformat(Form-F). In
para   7   of   his   reply   the   petitioner   stated   that   the   entire   records
available with him were provided to the Chief Medical Officer  on
the date of inspection on 16.2.2013,which was taken inpossession
and the clinic was sealed without giving any receipt of the record.
10. The   petitioner   has   annexed   the   news   items   published   in
‘Timesof India’dated 22
nd
March, 2013reportingtheactingtaken
in   District   Kushi   Nagar  against  the  ultrasound  clinics.     The  news
report  shows  that  in  the  day  long  crackdown  launched  by  District
Magistrate Shri Rigzin Sampheal, the inspecting party sealed nine
ultrasound centres after‘TimesofIndia’reportedabout the district
recording   lowest   sex   ratio   at   birth   in   the   country   in   the   wake   of
these test centres that have mushroomed all over the place. Out of
65  ultrasound  centres  in   the   district   60%  has  come  up  in   the   last
five   years.   The   report   further   states  that   comparing  the   0-6   years
female;   male   ratio   between   census   2001   and   2011,   sex   ratio   in
Kushinagar recorded a decline of 38 points.
11. The   petitioner   has   annexed   the   Kushi   Nagar   District
Population   Census,   2001,   Uttar   Pradesh,   literacy,   sex   ratio   and
density  in which  sex  ratio    (per  1000)  child,  sex  ratio  (0-6  age)  is
reported   as   955   as   against   963   in   the   year   2001.     Dr.   Nileema
Singh   reported   fall   of   sex   ratio   far   below  the   ratio   shown   in   the
census  at   917  in   the  year  2011  per  1000  male  as  against   953  per
1000   male   in   the   year   2001.     The   District   Magistrate   has   quoted
5
this   ratio   in   the   opening   paragraph   of   the   impugned   order   as
follows:-“The  comparative  census   for   the   year   2001   and   2011  for
district Kushinag ar stands as  noted belo w:
2011 2001
Male and female ratio in total
popu lation  of dis trict
1000 955 1000 960
Population of 0 to 6 years
children
1000 917 1000 953″
12. TheDistrict Magistrate hasshownhisconcern at the drastic
fall   in   the   number   of   female   per   thousand   male   in   District
Kushinagar   and   has   observed   that   this   shocking   reduction   in   the
percentage   of   girl   child   during   last   census   is   complimented   by
reports   of   large   scale   anomalies   and   non-compliance   of   required
norms under PC & PNDT Act by various ultrasound clinics in the
district. As per the report of the Chief Medical Officer, Kushinagar
dated 12.2.2013 out of 65 registered ultrasound centres running in
the   district   none   has   submitted   the   records   as   required   under
Section  29  and  Rule  9  (4)  under  the  PC  &  PNDT  Act.     Bases  on
these   facts   the   District   Magistrate   found   that   there   is   strong
possibility   of   hidden   relation   between   mushrooming   number   of
ultrasound   clinics   and   the   shocking   fall   in   the   percentage   of   girl
child   in   District   Kushinagar,   which   demanded   immediate
inspection   of   ultrasound   clinics.     The   severity   of   the   problem  in
the  district   can  be  assessed  from  the  fact   that   the  district   stand  at
67
th
position  out   of  71  districts  surveyed  for  sex  ratio  in  the  State
of U.P.
13. The   District   Magistrate   carried   out   random  inspections   of
22   ultrasound   centres   across   the   district   by   team   consisting   of
government   doctors   and   support   staff   from   the   revenue
department.   In  the   case   of   ‘Ashish  Ultrasound  and  X-ray  Centre’,
Hospital Road,  Padrauna,  run  by  the  petitioner  the  inspection  was
made by team of Chief Medical Officer Dr.Sanjeev Kumar Gupta
and   S.D.M.   Shri   B.L.   Maurya   on   16.2.2013.     The   team  reported
6
that Dr. D.P. Agrawal-the petitioner was present in the clinic.   He
had   shown   the   equipment   but   did   not   produce   the   registration
certificate.   The   maintenance   of   records   was   not   found   in
accordance with  the Rules  and  thus  the clinic was  sealed.   On the
basis of the inspection report dated 16.2.2013 a show cause notice
was issued  on  19.2.2013 to which the petitioner submitted a  reply
of which paragraphs 4, 5and 6 have beenreferred toas above and
on which  it was  found  that  the  petitioner  is  not  furnishing records
on prescribed Form-F.
14. The   District   Magistrate   has,   thereafter,   referred   to   the
provisions of  Section  20 and  29 of the PC & PNDT Act and Rule
9 of PC & PNDT Rules, which provide as follows:-“20.   Cancellation   or   suspension   of   registration.-(1)   The   Appropriate   Authority   may   suo   moto,   or   on
complaint,   issue   a   notice   to   the   Genetic   Counselling
Centre,Genetic Laboratory orGenetic Clinic to showcause
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
AdvisoryCommittee, the AppropriateAuthorityis satisfied
that there has been a breach of theprovisions of this Act or
the   rules,   it   may,   without   prejudice   to   any  criminal   action
that   it   may  take  against  such  Centre,  Laboratory  or  Clinic,
suspendits registration forsuchperiod as it maythink fitor
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
itisnecessary 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).
29.   Maintenance   of   records.  (1)   All   records,   charts,
forms,   reports,   consent   letters   and   all   other   documents
required to be maintained under this Act and the rules shall
be preserved for a period of two years or for such period as
may be prescribed:
7
Provided   that,   if   any   criminal   or   other   proceedings   are
instituted  against   any  Genetic  Counselling  Centre,   Genetic
Laboratory   or   Genetic   Clinic,   the   records   and   all   other
documents   of   such   Centre,   Laboratory   or   Clinic   shall   be
preserved till the final disposal of such proceedings.
(2) All  such  records  shall,  at  all  reasonable  times,  be made
available  for   inspection  to   the   Appropriate  Authority  or  to
any   other   person   authorised   by   the   Appropriate   Authority
in this behalf.
Rule9.Maintenance and preservationofrecords
4.   The   record   to   be   maintained   by   every   Genetic   Clinic
including  a  Mobile  Genetic  Clinic,   in  respect   of  each  man
or  woman  subjected  to  any  pre-natal  diagnostic  procedure/
technique/ test, shall be as specified in form F.”
15. The  petitioner  has  filed  a  supplementary  affidavit  affirmed
by   him   on   17.4.2013,   stating   therein   that   no   appropriate
opportunity  of  hearing  was  afforded  to  the  petitioner.    There  was
no   meeting   held   at   any   time   nor   any   guideline   was   issued   or
provided   to   the   petitioner   either   by   Advisory   Board   or   Advisory
Committee and that the District Magistrate has no authority in  the
technical   matters   as   under   Section   17   of   the   Act   Chairperson   of
the   Advisory   Committee   is   Joint   Director   of   Health   and   Family
Welfare.     The   order   impugned   has   been   passed   by   the   District
Magistrate   without   any   authority.     He   has   annexed   the   records
maintained   by   him  under   Rule   9   (8)   of   which   he   has   submitted
monthly  report  of  the  clinical  tests  carried  out  by  his Centre  from
2.1.2012 to  28.2.2012 (25+18  entries);  a  copy  of  the  register  with
2entries of November 2012;copyofthe register with 8 entries for
July,2012;copyof theregisterwith 16entriesfor August, 2012; a
copy of  the  register with 17+6 entries of  September, 2012; a copy
of the register with4 entries of October,2010; copy of the register
with   2   entries   of   November,   2012;   copy   of   the   entries   of   the
register   with   10   entries   of   November,   2011;   copy   of  the   register
8
with   4   entries   of   the   month   of   December,   2011   and   copy   of   the
register with 17 entries of the month of October, 2011.
16. The  details  of  the  copies  of  the  registers  enclosed  with  the
supplementary   affidavit   have   been   mentioned   by   us   in   seriatim,
whereas  these   have   been  annexed  by  petitioner   on  random  basis.
There  is  no  record or  proof  nor  any  defence was  taken  in  reply  to
show cause  notice or  in  this Court  that  all  these tests were carried
out   as   diagnosis   of   any   ailments   other   than   for   sex-selection   on
pregnant women.
17. A   perusal   of   the   entries   of   the   register   annexed   by   the
petitioner   along   with   supplementary   affidavit   not   only   confirms
thefears andthe observance of theDistrict Magistrateon the basis
of which he  has  cancelled  the  license,  they also  disclose  shocking
facts  to   the  Court  and  which  virtually  amount  to   admission  made
by  the   petitioner   of  sex  determination  tests  carried  out   by  him  in
his clinic.  Almost all the entires in the register of the year 2011-12
except a few are of young females between the age group of 19 to
32   years   and   most   of   the   reference   has   been   made   by   Dr.   M.
Chaudhary.     We   have   closely   examined  these   entries   to   find   out
whetherthe petitioner is using ultrasoundmachine for diagnosis of
any  ailments  other  than  sex  determination.   The  copies  of  register
annexed  to   supplementary  affidavit   confirm  that   all   except   a   few
tests  have  been  carried  out   on  young  females  of   the   reproductive
age.
18. The records produced by the petitioner clearly demonstrates
that   the   petitioner   is   using   ultrasound   as   diagnostic   machine   for
anyailments. He is only examiningyoung females betweenage of
19 to 32  years  of  reproductive  age.   The  copy  of  register  annexed
by the petitioner with his affidavit of February, July to December,
2012   confirms   the   findings   of   the   District   Magistrate   that   the
petitioner is usingultrasoundmachinesonlyforthepurposeof sex
determination   of   young   married   females,   and   that   too   on   the
references made  to  the  petitioner  only  two  doctors  namely Dr. M.
9
Chaudhary   and   Dr.   Mahesh.   No   other   doctor   refers   cases   to   the
petitioner.
19. This   Court   has   repeatedly   issued   directions   in   Contempt
Application   (C)   No.820  of  2002  to   the   registration  authorities   to
carry   out   the   inspection   of   the   ultrasound   clinics   run   by   both
registeredand qualifiedaswellastheunqualifiedandunregistered
doctors,   in   compliance   with   the   provisions   of   the   PC   &   PNDT
Act.     Those   persons,   who   are   running   ultrasound   machines   and
nursing  homes  for  sex  determination  should  be  sternly  dealt   with
under   the   provisions   of  the   Act.     In   the   order   dated  11.5.2012  in
ContemptApplicationNo.820 of 2002,thisCourthas directed that
if   they   are   found   indulged   in   sex   determination,   their   clinics
should be sealed and they should also be prosecuted.
20. In  Voluntary   health   Association   of  Punjab   v.   Union   of
India & Ors., WritPetition (Civil)No.349of 2006 the Supreme
Court has observed in its order dated 4.3.2013 as follows:-“Indian   society’ s   discrimination   towards   female
child  still   exists  due to  variou s  reasons  which  has  its  roots
in   the   social  behaviour  and  prejudices  against   the   female
child   and,   due   to   the   evils   of   the   dowry   system,   still
prevailing  in   the   society,  in   spite   of   its   prohibi tion   under
the Dowry Prohibit ion Act.  The  decline  in  the female  child
ratioall overthe country leads to an irre sistible  concl usion
that  the  practi ce  of   eliminating   female   foetus  by  the  use  of
pre-nat al  diagnostic  techniques   is   widely  preval ent  in   this
country.   Complaints  are   many,   where   at   least   few   of   the
medical   professiona ls   do   perform   Sex   Selective   Abortion
having  full   know ledge  that  the   sole   reason  for   abortion  is
becaus e it is a female foetus. The provisions  of the Medical
Termination   of   Pregnancy   Act,   1971   are   also   being
consciousl y violated and misused.
The   Parliament   wanted   to   prevent   the   same   and
enacted   the   Pre-Conception   and   Pre-Na tal   Diagnostic
Techniques  (Prohibition   on   Sex-Selection)   Act,   1994   (for
short   ‘the  Act’)   which  has   its   roots  in   Article  15(2)   of  the
Constitution  of   India.  The  Act   is   a  welfare  legislation.  The
Parliament   was   fully   conscious   of   the   fact   that   the
incre asing   imbala nce   between   men   and   women   leads   to
incre ased crime against women, trafficking, sexual assault,
polygamy etc. Unfortu nately,  facts reveal that perpetrator s
10
of   the   crime  also  belong  to   the   educated  middle  class  and
often  they  donot perceive th e gravityofthe  crime.
This   Court,   as   early   as,   in   2001   in   Centre   for
Enquiry  into   Health   and  Allied   Themes  v.   Union   of   India
(2001)  5   SCC  577   had  noticed   the   misuse   of   the   Act  and
gave   various   directions   for   its   proper   implementation.
Non-compliance   of   various  directions   was  noticed  by   this
Court  again  in   Centre   for  Enquiry  into  Health   and  Allied
Theme s v. Union of India (2003) 8 SCC 398 and this Court
gave variou s othe r directions.
2011 Census of India, published  by the Office of the
Registra r   General   and   Census   Commissio ner   of   India,
would   show   a   decline  in   female   child   sex   ratio   in   many
States   of   India   from   2001-2011.   The   Annual   Report   on
Registration   of  Births and Deaths  – 2009,  published   by  the
Chief   Registra r   of   NCT   of   Delhi   would   also   indica te   a
sharp   decline   in   the   female   sex   ratio   in   almo st   all   the
Districts.   Above   statistics   is   an   indi cation   that   the
provisions o f th e Actarenot proper ly and ef fectively being
impleme nted.   There   has   been   no   effective   supervision  or
follow up action so as to achieve the object and purpose of
the   Act.   Mushrooming   of   various   Sonograph y   Centres,
Genetic   Clinics,   Genetic   Counselling   Centres,   Genetic
Laboratorie s,   Ultras onic   Clinics,   Imaging   Centres   in
almo st   all   parts   of   the   country   calls   for   more   vigil   and
attention   by   the   authorities   under   the   Act.   But,
unfortunately,   their   functioning   is   not   being   properl y
monitored or supervised bytheauthorities unde rthe Actor
to   find   out   whether   they   are   misusing   the   pre-nata l
diagno stic   tech niques   for   determination  of   sex   of   foetus
leading to f oeticide.
The   Union   of   India   has   filed   an   affidavi t   in
September   2011   giving   the   details   of   the   prosecutions
launched  under  the   Act  and  the   Pre-Conception  and  Pre-Natal   Diagnostic   Techniques   (Prohibit ion   on   Sex-Selection)  Rules,   1996  (for   short   ‘the   Rules’),   up   to   June
2011.  We  have  gone  throu gh  the  chart  as  well   as  the  data
made   available   by   various   States,   which   depic ts   a   sorry
and   an   alarming   state   of   affairs.   Lack   of   proper
supervision   and   effective   implem entation   of   the   Act   by
variou s   States,   are   clearly   demon strated   by   the   details
made   availabl e   to   this   Court.   However,   State   of
Maharashtra   has   compar atively   a   better   track   record.
Seldom,   the   ultrasound   machines   used   for   such   sex
determin ation  in   violation  of  the   provisions  of   the   Act  are
seized   and,  even   if   seized,  the y   are   being  released   to   the
violato rs   of   the   law  only   to   repeat   the   crime.  Hardly   few
cases   end   in   convic tion.   Cases   booked  under  the   Act   are
11
pending  disposal  for   several   years   in   many  Courts  in   the
country and nobodytakes  any inter est in their disposa l and
hence,   seldom,   tho se   cases   end   in   conviction   and
sentences,  a  fact  well   known  to  the  violato rs  of   law.  Many
of the ult ra-so nography clinics seldom  maintain any reco rd
as   per   rules   and,   in   respect   of   the   pregnant   women,   no
records  are   kept  for   their  treatment  and  the   provisions  of
the Actandthe Rules are being violated with  impunity.
The   Central   Governme nt   vide   GSR   80(E)   dated
7.2.2 002   issued   a   notification   amending   the   Act   and
regulating  usage   of   mobile  machine s   capable  of  detecting
the   sex   of   the   foetus,   including   portable   ultrasonic
machines,   except   in   cases   to   provide   birth   services   to
patients  when used within its registered premises as part of
the   Mobile   Medical   Unit   offering   a   bouquet   or   other
medical and health services. The Central Governm ent also
vide   GSR   418(E)   dated   4.6.2012   has   notified   an
amendment  by  inserting  a   new  Rule   3.3(3)  with  an   object
to  regulate  illegal  registrations  of   medical  practit ioners  in
genetic  clinics,  and  also  amended  Rule   5(1)   by  increasin g
the   applicat ion   fee  for  registration  of  every   genetic  clinic,
genetic   coun selling   centr e,   genetic   laborato ry,   ultrasound
clinic   or   imaging   centr e   and   amended   Rule   13   by
providing   that   an   advance   notice   by   any   centre   for
intimation   of   every   chang e   in   place,   intimation   of
employees   and   addres s.   Many   of   the   clinics   are   tota lly
unaware   of   thos e   amendments   and   are   carrying   on   the
same practises.”
21. The   Supreme   Court   has   in   the   same   order   dated   4.3.2013
given directions to all the authorities as follows:-“1.   The   Central   Superviso ry   Board   and   the   State   and
Union  Territories  Supervisory   Boards,   constituted  under
Sections 7 and 16A of PN&PNDT Act, would meet at least
once   in   six   months,   so   as   to   supervise  and   oversee   how
effective is th e implementation o f the PN&PNDTAct.
2.The   State   Advisory   Committees   and   District   Advisory
Committees   should   gather   inform ation   relating   to   the
breach   of   the   provisions  of   the   PN&PNDT   Act   and   the
Rules   and   take   steps   to   seize   reco rds,   seal   machines  and
institute  legal   proceedings,  if   they   notice  violation  of   the
provisions of the P N&PNDTAct.
3.The   Committees   mention ed   above   should   repo rt   the
details   of   the   charg es   framed   and   the   convict ion   of   the
persons   who   have   committe d   the   offence,   to   the   State
12
Medical  Councils  for  proper  action,  including  suspensio n
of the registr ation of the unit and cancel lation  of licence  to
practi ce.
4.   The   authorities   should   ensure   also   that   all   Genetic
Counselling   Centres,   Genetic   Labor atories   and   Genetic
Clinics,   Infertility   Clinics,   Scan   Centres   etc.   using   pre-conception   and   pre-nata l   diagnostic   techniques   and
procedures   should   maintain   all   reco rds   and   all   forms,
required  to be maintained  under the Act and the Rules and
the   duplicate  copies  of  the   same  be  sent  to   the   concer ned
District   Authorities,  in   accordance  with  Rule   9(8)   of   the
Rules.
5.  States   and  District   Advisory  Boards  should  ensure   that
all   manufacture rs   and   sellers   of   ultra-so nography
machines  do   not   sell   any   machine   to   any   unregister ed
centre,   as   provided   under   Rule   3-A   and   disclose,   on   a
quarter ly   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)
ofthe Act.
6.   There   will   be   a   direction   to   all   Genetic   Counselling
Centres,   Genetic   Laborato ries,   Clinics   etc.   to   maintain
forms   A,   E,   H  and   other   Statutory  forms   provided  under
the   Rules  and  if   thes e   forms   are   not  properl y   maintained,
appropriate   action   should   be   taken   by   the   authorities
concern ed.
7. Steps should a lso be taken by the  State Gove rnme ntand
the  authorities  under  the  Act  for mapping  of  all  registered
and unregister ed ultra-so nography clinics,  in three months
time.
8. Steps should be taken by the State Governme nts 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
Districtlevels.
9.   Special  Cell   be   constitute d   by   the   State   Governments
and   the   Union   Territories   to   monitor   the   progress   of
various  cases pending  in the Courts undertheAct and take
steps f or their ea rly disposa l.
10. The auth oritiesconcer nedshouldtake steps  to sei ze the
machines  which  have  been  used   illegally   and  contrar y   to
the provisions   of the Act and the Rules thereunder and  the
seized   machine s   can   also   be   confiscated   under   the
13
provisions  of the Code of Criminal Procedure and be sold,
in accordance  withlaw.
11. The various Courts in this country should take steps to
dispose of all pending  cases under the Act, within a period
of six months. Commu nicate this order to the Registrar s of
various  High  Courts,  who  will   take  appropriate   follow  up
actionwith due intimation to th e concer ned Courts.
All   the   State   Governm ents   are   directed   to   file   a
status r eport within  a period  ofthre e months from today.
Orderedaccordingl y.
……. …… …… …… …… …… …… .J.
(K. S. RADHAKRISHNAN )”
22. In   a   separate   but   concurring   order   Hon’ble   Mr.   Justice
Dipak Misra,  J.  has  given  his  opinion  in  the  same  case,  an  extract
of which is quoted as below:-“4.  Be it  noted,  this  is  not  for  the  first  time that  this Court
is   showin g   its   concern.  It   has   also   been  done  before.   In
Centre   for   Enquiry   into   Health   and   Allied   Them es
(CEHAT)  and   others   v.   Union  of   India   and   others1,   the
two- Judge Bench comme nced the judgme nt stating that the
practi ce  of  female  infantici de  still  prevail s  despite  the  fact
that   the   gentle   touch   of   a   daughte r   and   her   voice   has   a
soothing  effect  on  the  parents .   The  Court  also  comme nted
on  the   immor al  and  unethical  part   of   it   as  well   as   on   the
involvement   of   the   qualified   and   unqualified  doctors   or
compounders   to   abort   the   foetus   of   a   girl   child.   It   is
apposite to state here that certain directions were given in
the s aiddecision.
5.   Female   foeticide   has   its   roots   in   the   social   thinking
which   is   fundamenta lly   based   on   certain   erroneous
notion s,   ego-centric   traditions,   pervert   perception   of
societal norms, and obsession with ideas which are tota lly
indi vidualistic   sans   the   collective   good.   All   involved   in
female foeticide deliberatel y forget to realize thatwhen the
foetus   of   a   girl   child   is   destroy ed,   a   woman   of   future   is
crucified.   To   put   it   differently,   the   present   generation
invites  the sufferings on its own and also sows the seeds of
suffering   for   the   future   generation,   as   in   the   ultimate
eventuate , the sex ratio gets affected  and leads to manifold
social   problems.  I   may   hasten   to   add   that   no   awareness
campaign  can  ever  be  compl ete  unless   there  is   real  focus
14
on   the   prow ess   of   women   and   the   need   for   women
empowe rment.
6.   On   many   an   occasion   this   Court   has   expressed   its
anguish  over  this  problem  in   many  a  realm.  Dealing  with
the   unfortunate   tradition   of   demand   of   dowr y   from   the
girl’s   parents   at   the   time   of   marriag e   despite   the   same
being  a   criminal  offence,   a   two-Judge  Bench   in   State  of
H.P.   v.   Nikku   Ram   and   others   has   expressed   its   agony
thus : -“Dowr y,   dowry   and   dowry.   This   is   the   painf ul
repetition   which   confronts ,   and   at   times   haunts,
many parents of a girl child in this holy land of ours
where,   in   good   old   days   the   belief   was   :   [“Yatra
naryastu  pujyante  ramante  tatra  dewatah” ]   (where
woman  is   worshipped,  there   is   abode  of   God).  We
have   mentioned   about   dowr y   thrice,   becaus e   this
dema nd   is   made   on   three   occasion s:   (i)   before
marriage; (ii) at thetime of marriage; and (iii) after
the   marriage .   Greed   being   limitles s,   the   demands
become   insatiable   in   many   cases,   followed   by
torture on the girl, leading to eithe r suicide in some
cases or murder in s ome.”
The aforesaid passa ge clearly reflects the deg ree of
anguish of  this Court  in regard to  the  treatment meted out
to the w omen  in this country .
7. It is not out of place to state here that the restricted and
constricted  thinking  with  regard  to   a  girl   child  eventually
leads   to   female   foeticide.   A   foetus   in   the   womb,  becaus e
she is like ly to be born as a girl child, is not allowed to see
the   mother   earth.   In   M.C.  Mehta   v.   State   of   Tamil  Nadu
and   others,   a   thre e-Judge  Bench,   while   dealing   with  the
magnitude   of   the   problem   in   engagement   of   the   child
labo ur   in   variou s   hazardous   factories   or   mines,   etc.,
speaking  through   Hansaria,   J.,   commenced  the   judgment
thus :-“I am the  child.
All the wordwaitsformy coming.
All the earth watche s with inte restto s ee
what Ishall become.
Civilizat ion ha ngs in the bal ance.
For wh atIam, the w orldof tomo rrow wil l
be.
I am the child.
You holdin y our handmy destiny.
15
You determine, l argely, wh ether I shall
succeed  or fail,
Giveme, Ipray y ou, thes e thing s that make
for happiness.
Train me, Ibeg y ou, that I may be a
blessing to th e world.”
8. The aforesaid linesfrom Mamie Gene Cole were treated
as  an  appea l   by  this  Court  and  the  Bench  reproduced  the
famous  line  from William  Wordsworth  “child  is  the  father
of  the  man”.  I  have  reproduced   the same  to  highlight  that
this   Court   has  laid   special  empha sis   on  the   term  “child”
as   a   child   feels   that   the   entire   world   waits   for   his/he r
coming.   A   female   child,   as   stated   earlier,   becomes   a
woman. Its life-spark  cannot  be exting uished  in the womb,
for   such   an   act   would   certainly   bring   disaster   to   the
society.  On  such   an   act   the   collective   can   neither   laugh
today nor tomo rrow. There shall be tea rs and tear s all the
way   because   eventua lly   the   spirit   of   humanity   is
comatos ed.
9. Vishwakavi Rabindranath  Tagore, while speaking about
a child, had said  thus : -“Every  child  come s   with  the   message  that   God  is   not   yet
discouraged of man.”
10.   Long   back,   speaking   about   human   baby,   Charles
Dickenshad saidth us :-“Every  baby  born   into   the   world   is   a   finer   one   than   the
last.”
11.Awoman has toberegardedas an equal partner in the
life  of   a  man.  It  has  to  be  borne  in  mind  that  she  has  also
the   equa l   role   in   the   society,   i.e.,   thinking,  partici pating
and   leadership.   The   legislature   has   broug ht   the   present
piece   of   legislation   with   an   intention   to   provide   for
prohibit ion of  sex  selection before  or after conception   and
for   regulation   of   pre-nata l   diagnostic  techniques  for   the
purpose s   of   detecting  genetic   abno rmalities   or   metabolic
disorders   or   chromo soma l   abnorm alities   or   certain
cong enital  malformations  or   sex-linked  disorders  and   for
the   prevention   of   their   misuse   for   sex   determination
leading  to   female   foeticide.  The  purpos e   of   the   enactment
can   only   be   actua lised   and   its   object   fruitfu lly   realized
when   the   autho rities   under   the   Act   carry   out   their
functions  with  devotion,  dedicat ion   and   commitment  and
further   there   is   awakened   awareness   with   regard   to   the
role ofwomen in a s ociety.
16
12.  It   would  not   be  an  exaggeration  to   say   that  a  society
that   does   not   respect  its   women  cann ot   be   treated   to   be
civilized.   In   the   first   part   of   the   last   centur y   Swami
Vivekanand  had said: -“Just  as  a  bird  could  not  fly   with  one  wing  only,  a  nation
wouldnot ma rch forwardif th e wom en are left behind.”
13. When a female foeticide takes  place, every woman who
mothers   the   child   must  remember   that   she   is   killing   her
own  child  despite  being  a   mother.  That  is   what  abortion
would  mean  in  social  terms.  Abortion  of  a  female  child  in
its conceptual  eventua lity leads to killing of a woman. Law
prohibits  it;   scriptures  forbid  it;   philo sophy  condem ns   it;
ethics  deprecate  it,   morality  decries  it   and   social  science
abhor s it.HenrikIbs en empha sized on the indiv idualism of
woman. John Milton treated her to be the best of all God’s
work.  In  this  conte xt,  it  will  be appropriate  to  quote a few
lines   from   Democracy   in   America   by   Alexis   De
Tocqueville: -“If   I   were   asked   …   to   what   the   singular   prosperity  and
growing strength of that people [Am ericans] ought mainly
to   be  attributed,  I   should   reply:   to  the  superiority  of   their
women.”
23. It  is   unfortunate  that  in  a  civilized  country  like  India  some
people   for  their   petty   gains   are   using   modern  technology  for  sex
determination,whichultimatelyleadsto abortionoffemale foetus.
We are pained  to  observe  that  the qualified and  registered doctors
running  ultrasound  clinics  are   using  the   modern  developments  in
technology to determinethe sexof the child in womb,which leads
to   sex   selection   abortion   of   female   foetus.     In   the   last   about   10
years with the availability of advanced ultrasonogrphy techniques,
the  doctors  in  our  country  have  been  responsible  for  abortions  of
about   10   million   women,   killing   female   children   in   womb.   This
mass   carnage   of   female   foetus   in   womb   has   made   the   Indian
doctors   responsible   for   the   crimes,   which   has   no   parallel   in   the
history   of   modern   medical   science.   The   number   of   deaths   of
female children   in womb (female foeticide) in the last decade has
exceeded  the   total   deaths  in   the   first   and   second  world   war.   The
17
Indian  Legislature  enacted DNDT  Act  in  1994  and  then  amended
it   in   1996   regulating   pre-conception   genetic   clinics   and
counselling, and genetic laboratories. The executive has, however,
failed to implementtheAct in itstruespirit.  Wemayobservethat
as   directed   by   the   Supreme   Court   the   sealing   of   the   clinics   and
cancellation   of   the   license   by   itself   is   not   sufficient   deterrent
unless  registration  of  such  doctors  with  Medical   Council   of  India
or   Indian   Medicine   Council   of   India   as   the   case   may   be   is
cancelled   and   they   are   prosecuted,   for   carrying   out   sex
determination.  We  are  sad  to  observe  that  except  for  few  cases  in
Maharashtra   and   Delhi   the   executive   in   the   State   of   U.P.   made
responsible   for   enforcement   of   PC   &   PNDT   Act   has   not   taken
effective   steps   to   seal   the   clinics   and   to   prosecute   the   doctors.
Recently   the   Maharashtra   Medical   Council   has   suspended
registrationof6 doctorsforfloutingguidelines ofthePC& PNDT
Act   and   2   doctors   have   been   sent   notice   for  violating   the   Act   in
accordance  with  the  report  of  Shri   Anoop  Satphale  while  charges
have been framed against 69 doctors, 8 cases were sent to Ayurved
Council   and  7   have  been  directed  to   Homeopathic  Council.     The
Maharashtra  Medical   Body  has  cancelled  registration  of  about   66
doctors   and   cases   were   filed   against   400   for   violation   of   PC   &
PNDT Act.
24. In   the   circumstances,  while   upholding   the   order   of   the
District Magistrate, who has made a commendable job in carrying
out   inspections,   sealing   clinics   and   cancelling   registrations   on
finding   gross   violations   of   the   provisions   of   PC   &   PNDT   Act,
1994   and   Rules   of   1996,   after   giving   notice   to   the   ultrasound
clinics, we  direct  him    to  refer the petitioner’s  case  to the Medical
Council of India, for suspension and  for  taking disciplinary action
for   misconduct   for   cancelling   his   registration   and   to   initiating
criminal   action   against   him   for   carrying   out   sex   determination
tests;   failing   to   maintain   and   furnish   records   and   in   submitting
prescribed Form-F in accordance with the provisions of the Rules,
18
and   for   carrying   out   ultrasonography   tests,   on   young   females   of
reproductive   age     conclusively   indicating   that   there   tests   were
carried   out   for   sex   determination,   which   is   a   punishable   offence
under PC & PNDT Act.
25. The   writ   petition   is  dismissed  with   the   observations   and
directions   as   above,   which   will   be   carried   out   by   the   District
Magistrate within a period of one month from the date the order is
communicated to him.
26. A  copy   of   the   order   shall   be   given   to   the   Chief   Standing
Counsel, Government of U.P. for compliance.
Dt.17.05.2013
SP/

allahabadhicourt.kushinagar

Voluntary Health Association of Punjab Vs Union of India & Others


Voluntary Health Association of Punjab

Reportable

IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA

EXTRAORDINARY CIVIL WRIT JURISDICTION

WRIT PETITION (CIVIL) NO. 349 OF 2006

Voluntary Health Association of Punjab                                                ..Petitioner
Versus
Union of India & Others                                                                            .. Respondents

O R D E R

Indian society’s discrimination towards female child still exists  due
to various  reasons  which  has  its  roots  in  the  social  behaviour  and
prejudices against the female child and, due  to  the  evils  of  the  dowry
system, still prevailing in the society, in spite of its  prohibition  under
the Dowry Prohibition Act.  The decline in the female child ratio  all  over
the country leads  to  an  irresistible  conclusion  that  the  practice  of
eliminating female foetus by the use of pre-natal diagnostic  techniques  is
widely prevalent in this country.  Complaints are many, where at  least  few
of the medical professionals do perform Sex Selective Abortion  having  full
knowledge that the sole reason for  abortion  is  because  it  is  a  female
foetus.   The provisions of the Medical Termination of Pregnancy  Act,  1971
are also being consciously violated and misused.

The Parliament wanted  to  prevent  the  same  and  enacted  the  Pre-
Conception  and  Pre-Natal  Diagnostic  Techniques  (Prohibition   on   Sex-
Selection) Act, 1994 (for short ‘the Act’) which has its  roots  in  Article
15(2) of the Constitution of India.  The Act is a welfare legislation.   The
Parliament was fully conscious of the fact  that  the  increasing  imbalance
between men and women leads to increased crime against  women,  trafficking,
sexual  assault,   polygamy   etc.    Unfortunately,   facts   reveal   that
perpetrators of the crime also belong  to  the  educated  middle  class  and
often they do not perceive the gravity of the crime.

This Court, as early as, in 2001 in Centre for Enquiry into Health and
Allied Themes v. Union of India (2001) 5 SCC 577 had noticed the  misuse  of
the Act and gave various directions for  its  proper  implementation.   Non-
compliance of various directions was noticed by this Court again  in  Centre
for Enquiry into Health and Allied Themes v. Union of  India  (2003)  8  SCC
398 and this Court gave various other directions.

Having noticed that those directions as well as the provisions of  the
Act are not being properly implemented  by  the  various  States  and  Union
Territories, we passed an order on 8.1.2013  directing  personal  appearance
of the Health Secretaries of the  States  of  Punjab,  Haryana,  NCT  Delhi,
Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Maharashtra, to examine what steps  they
have taken for the proper and effective implementation of the provisions  of
the Act as well as the various directions issued by this Court.

We notice that, even though, the Union of India  has  constituted  the
Central Supervisory Board and most of the States and Union Territories  have
constituted State  Supervisory  Boards,  Appropriate  Authorities,  Advisory
Committees  etc.  under  the  Act,  but  their  functioning  are  far   from
satisfactory.

2011 Census of India,  published  by  the  Office  of  the  Registrar
General and Census Commissioner of India, would show  a  decline  in  female
child sex ratio in many States of India from 2001-2011.  The  Annual  Report
on Registration of  Births  and  Deaths  –  2009,  published  by  the  Chief
Registrar of NCT of Delhi would also indicate a sharp decline in the  female
sex ratio in almost all the Districts.  Above statistics  is  an  indication
that the provisions of the  Act  are  not  properly  and  effectively  being
implemented.  There has been no effective supervision or  follow  up  action
so as to achieve the object and purpose of the Act.  Mushrooming of  various
Sonography Centres, Genetic Clinics, Genetic  Counselling  Centres,  Genetic
Laboratories, Ultrasonic Clinics, Imaging Centres in  almost  all  parts  of
the country calls for more vigil and attention by the authorities under  the
Act.    But,  unfortunately,  their  functioning  is  not   being   properly
monitored or supervised by the authorities under the  Act  or  to  find  out
whether  they  are  misusing  the  pre-natal   diagnostic   techniques   for
determination of sex of foetus leading to foeticide.

The Union of India has filed an affidavit in  September  2011  giving
the details of  the  prosecutions  launched  under  the  Act  and  the  Pre-
Conception  and  Pre-Natal  Diagnostic  Techniques  (Prohibition   on   Sex-
Selection) Rules, 1996 (for short ‘the Rules’), up to June  2011.   We  have
gone through the chart as  well  as  the  data  made  available  by  various
States, which depicts a sorry and an alarming state  of  affairs.   Lack  of
proper supervision and  effective  implementation  of  the  Act  by  various
States, are clearly demonstrated by  the  details  made  available  to  this
Court.  However, State of  Maharashtra  has  comparatively  a  better  track
record. Seldom, the ultrasound machines used for such sex  determination  in
violation of the provisions of the Act are seized and, even if seized,  they
are being released to the violators of the law only  to  repeat  the  crime.
Hardly few cases end in conviction.  Cases booked under the Act are  pending
disposal for several years in many Courts in the country  and  nobody  takes
any interest in their  disposal  and  hence,  seldom,  those  cases  end  in
conviction and sentences, a fact well known to the violators of law.    Many
of the ultra-sonography clinics seldom maintain  any  record  as  per  rules
and, in respect of the  pregnant  women,  no  records  are  kept  for  their
treatment and the provisions of the Act and the  Rules  are  being  violated
with impunity.

The  Central  Government  vide  GSR  80(E)  dated  7.2.2002  issued   a
notification amending the  Act  and  regulating  usage  of  mobile  machines
capable of detecting the sex of the foetus,  including  portable  ultrasonic
machines, except in cases to provide birth services to  patients  when  used
within its registered premises as part of the Mobile Medical  Unit  offering
a bouquet or other medical and  health  services.   The  Central  Government
also vide GSR 418(E) dated 4.6.2012 has notified an amendment  by  inserting
a new Rule 3.3(3) with  an  object  to  regulate  illegal  registrations  of
medical practitioners in genetic clinics, and  also  amended  Rule  5(1)  by
increasing the application fee for registration  of  every  genetic  clinic,
genetic  counselling  centre,  genetic  laboratory,  ultrasound  clinic   or
imaging centre and amended Rule 13 by providing that an  advance  notice  by
any centre for intimation of every change in place, intimation of  employees
and address.  Many of the clinics are totally unaware  of  those  amendments
and are  carrying  on  the  same  practises.   In  such  circumstances,  the
following directions are given:

1. The Central Supervisory Board and  the  State  and  Union  Territories
Supervisory Boards, constituted under Sections 7 and  16A  of  PN&PNDT
Act, would meet at least once in six months, so as  to  supervise  and
oversee how effective is the implementation of the PN&PNDT Act.

2. The State Advisory Committees and District Advisory Committees  should
gather information relating to the breach of  the  provisions  of  the
PN&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 PN&PNDT Act.

3. The Committees mentioned  above  should  report  the  details  of  the
charges framed and the conviction of the persons  who  have  committed
the  offence,  to  the  State  Medical  Councils  for  proper  action,
including suspension of the registration of the unit and  cancellation
of licence to practice.

4. The authorities  should  ensure  also  that  all  Genetic  Counselling
Centres,  Genetic  Laboratories  and  Genetic   Clinics,   Infertility
Clinics,  Scan  Centres  etc.  using  pre-conception   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.

5.  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.

6. There will be a direction to all Genetic Counselling Centres,  Genetic
Laboratories, Clinics etc.  to  maintain  forms  A,  E,  H  and  other
Statutory forms provided under the Rules and if these  forms  are  not
properly  maintained,  appropriate  action  should  be  taken  by  the
authorities concerned.

7. Steps should also be taken by the State Government and the authorities
under the Act for mapping of all registered  and  unregistered  ultra-
sonography clinics, in three months time.

8. 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.

9. Special Cell be constituted by the State  Governments  and  the  Union
Territories to monitor the progress of various cases  pending  in  the
Courts under the Act and take steps for their early disposal.

10. 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 thereunder and  the  seized  machines  can  also  be
confiscated under the provisions of the Code of Criminal Procedure and
be sold, in accordance with law.

11. 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
concerned Courts.

All the State Governments are directed to file a status report  within
a period of three months from today.

Ordered accordingly.

…………………………………
…..J.
(K. S. RADHAKRISHNAN)
New Delhi,
March 04, 2013.

IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA

EXTRAORDINARY CIVIL WRIT JURISDICTION

WRIT PETITION (CIVIL) NO. 349 OF 2006

Voluntary Health Association of Punjab       … Petitioner

Versus

Union of India and others                        … Respondents

O R D E R

Dipak Misra, J.

I  respectfully  concur  with  the  delineation  and  the  directions
enumerated in seriatim by my respected  learned  Brother.   However,  regard
being had to the signification of the issue, the magnitude  of  the  problem
in praesenti, and the colossal cataclysm that  can  visit  this  country  in
future unless apposite awareness  is  spread,  I  intend  to  add  something
pertaining to the direction No. (8).

2. To have a comprehensive view I think it seemly to reproduce  the  said
direction: -

“8.    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.”

3.  It  is  common  knowledge  that  the  State  Governments  and   Union
Territories some times hold workshops as well as  awareness  camps  at
the State and District levels  which  have  the  characteristic  of  a
routine performance, sans sincerity, bereft of seriousness  and  shorn
of meaning.  It is embedded on data-orientation.  It does not  require
Solomon’s wisdom to realize that there  has  not  yet  been  effective
implementation of the provisions of the Act, for there  has  not  only
been total lethargy and laxity but also failure on  the  part  of  the
authorities to give accent  on  social,  cultural,  psychological  and
legal awareness that a female foetus is not to be destroyed for many a
reason apart from command of the law.  Needless  to  emphasise,  there
has to be awareness of the legal provisions and the consequences  that
have been provided for violation of the Pre-Conception  and  Pre-Natal
Diagnostic Techniques (Prohibition on Sex-Selection)  Act,  1994  (for
brevity “the Act”) but, a significant  one,  the  awareness  in  other
spheres are absolutely necessitous for concretizing  the  purposes  of
the Act.

4. Be it noted, this is not for the first time that this Court is showing
its concern.  It has also been done before.   In  Centre  for  Enquiry
into Health and Allied Themes (CEHAT) and others v. Union of India and
others[1], the two-Judge Bench commenced the judgment stating that the
practice of female infanticide still prevails despite  the  fact  that
the gentle touch of a daughter and her voice has a soothing effect  on
the parents.  The Court also commented on the  immoral  and  unethical
part of it as  well  as  on  the  involvement  of  the  qualified  and
unqualified doctors or compounders to  abort  the  foetus  of  a  girl
child.  It is apposite to state  here  that  certain  directions  were
given in the said decision.

5. Female foeticide has  its  roots  in  the  social  thinking  which  is
fundamentally  based  on  certain   erroneous   notions,   ego-centric
traditions, pervert perception of societal norms, and  obsession  with
ideas which are totally individualistic sans the collective good.  All
involved in female foeticide deliberately forget to realize that  when
the foetus of a  girl  child  is  destroyed,  a  woman  of  future  is
crucified.  To put it differently, the present generation invites  the
sufferings on its own and also sows the seeds  of  suffering  for  the
future generation, as in the ultimate eventuate, the  sex  ratio  gets
affected and leads to manifold social problems.  I may hasten  to  add
that no awareness campaign can ever be complete unless there  is  real
focus on the prowess of women and the need for women empowerment.

6. On many an occasion this Court has expressed  its  anguish  over  this
problem in many a realm.  Dealing with the  unfortunate  tradition  of
demand of dowry from the  girl’s  parents  at  the  time  of  marriage
despite the same being a criminal offence, a two-Judge Bench in  State
of H.P. v. Nikku Ram and others[2] has expressed its agony thus: -

“Dowry, dowry and dowry. This is the  painful  repetition  which
confronts, and at times haunts, many parents of a girl child  in
this holy land of ours where, in good old days the belief was  :
“???? ????????? ????????? ??????  ????  ?????:”  [“Yatra  naryastu  pujyante
ramante tatra dewatah”] (where woman  is  worshipped,  there  is
abode of God). We have mentioned  about  dowry  thrice,  because
this demand is made on three  occasions:  (i)  before  marriage;
(ii) at the time of marriage;  and  (iii)  after  the  marriage.
Greed being limitless, the demands  become  insatiable  in  many
cases, followed by  torture  on  the  girl,  leading  to  either
suicide in some cases or murder in some.”

The aforesaid passage clearly reflects the degree of anguish  of  this
Court in regard to the treatment meted out to the women in this country.

7. It is not  out  of  place  to  state  here  that  the  restricted  and
constricted thinking with regard to a girl child eventually  leads  to
female foeticide.  A foetus in the womb, because she is likely  to  be
born as a girl child, is not allowed to see the mother earth.  In M.C.
Mehta v. State of Tamil Nadu and others[3], a three-Judge Bench, while
dealing with the magnitude of the problem in engagement of  the  child
labour in various hazardous factories or mines, etc., speaking through
Hansaria, J., commenced the judgment thus: -

“I am the child.

All the word waits for my coming.

All the earth watches with interest to see what I shall become.

Civilization hangs in the balance.

For what I am, the world of tomorrow will be.

I am the child.

You hold in your hand my destiny.

You determine, largely, whether I shall succeed or fail,

Give me, I pray you, these things that make for happiness.

Train me, I beg you, that I may be a blessing to the world.”

8.  The aforesaid lines from Mamie Gene Cole were treated as an appeal by
this Court and the Bench  reproduced  the  famous  line  from  William
Wordsworth “child is the father of the man”.  I  have  reproduced  the
same to highlight that this Court has laid  special  emphasis  on  the
term “child” as a child feels that the entire world waits for  his/her
coming.  A female child, as stated earlier, becomes a woman.  Its life-
spark cannot be extinguished in  the  womb,  for  such  an  act  would
certainly  bring  disaster  to  the  society.   On  such  an  act  the
collective can neither laugh today nor tomorrow.  There shall be tears
and tears all the way because eventually the  spirit  of  humanity  is
comatosed.

9. Vishwakavi Rabindranath Tagore, while speaking about a child, had said
thus: -

“Every  child  comes  with  the  message  that  God  is  not  yet
discouraged of man.”

10. Long back, speaking about human baby, Charles Dickens had said thus  :
-

“Every baby born into the world is a finer one than the last.”

11. A woman has to be regarded as an equal partner in the life of  a  man.
It has to be borne in mind that she has also the  equal  role  in  the
society,  i.e.,   thinking,   participating   and   leadership.    The
legislature has brought the  present  piece  of  legislation  with  an
intention to provide for prohibition of sex selection before or  after
conception and for regulation of pre-natal diagnostic  techniques  for
the purposes of detecting genetic abnormalities or metabolic disorders
or chromosomal abnormalities or certain  congenital  malformations  or
sex-linked disorders and for the prevention of their  misuse  for  sex
determination  leading  to  female  foeticide.   The  purpose  of  the
enactment can only be actualised and its  object  fruitfully  realized
when the authorities under the Act  carry  out  their  functions  with
devotion, dedication and commitment  and  further  there  is  awakened
awareness with regard to the role of women in a society.

12. It would not be an exaggeration to say that a society  that  does  not
respect its women cannot be treated to be  civilized.   In  the  first
part of the last century Swami Vivekanand had said: -

“Just as a bird could not fly with one wing only, a nation  would
not march forward if the women are left behind.”

13. When a female foeticide takes place, every woman who mothers the child
must remember that she is  killing  her  own  child  despite  being  a
mother.  That is what abortion would mean in social  terms.   Abortion
of a female child in its conceptual eventuality leads to killing of  a
woman.  Law prohibits it; scriptures forbid  it;  philosophy  condemns
it; ethics deprecate it, morality decries it and social science abhors
it.  Henrik Ibsen emphasized on  the  individualism  of  woman.   John
Milton treated her to be the best of all God’s work.  In this context,
it will be appropriate to quote a few lines from Democracy in  America
by Alexis De Tocqueville: -

“If I were asked … to what the singular prosperity and  growing
strength  of  that  people  [Americans]  ought   mainly   to   be
attributed, I should reply: to the superiority of their women.”

14. At this stage, I may with profit reproduce two  paragraphs  from  Ajit
Savant Majagvai v. State of Karnataka[4]: -

“3. Social thinkers, philosophers, dramatists, poets and writers
have eulogised the female species of the  human  race  and  have
always used beautiful epithets to describe her  temperament  and
personality and have not deviated  from  that  path  even  while
speaking of her odd behaviour, at times. Even in  sarcasm,  they
have not crossed the  literary  limit  and  have  adhered  to  a
particular standard of nobility of language. Even when a  member
of her own species, Madame De Stael, remarked “I am glad that  I
am not a man; for then I should have to marry  a  woman”,  there
was wit in it. When Shakespeare wrote, “Age cannot  wither  her;
nor custom stale, her infinite variety”, there  again  was  wit.
Notwithstanding that these writers have cried hoarse for respect
for “woman”, notwithstanding that Schiller said  “Honour  women!
They entwine and weave heavenly roses in our earthly  life”  and
notwithstanding that the Mahabharata mentioned her as the source
of salvation, crime against “woman” continues to rise  and  has,
today undoubtedly, risen to alarming proportions.

4. It is unfortunate that in an age where people  are  described
as civilised, crime against “female” is committed even when  the
child is in the womb as the “female” foetus is  often  destroyed
to prevent the birth of a female child. If that child comes into
existence, she starts her life as a  daughter,  then  becomes  a
wife and in due course, a mother. She rocks the cradle  to  rear
up her infant, bestows all her love on  the  child  and  as  the
child grows in age, she gives to the child all that she  has  in
her own personality. She shapes the destiny and character of the
child. To be cruel to such a creature is unthinkable. To torment
a wife can only be described as the most hated and derisive  act
of a human being.”

[Emphasis supplied]

15. In Madhu Kishwar v. State of  Bihar[5]  this  Court  had  stated  that
Indian  women  have  suffered  and  are  suffering  discrimination  in
silence.   Self-sacrifice  and  self-denial  are  their  nobility  and
fortitude  and  yet  they  have  been  subjected  to  all  inequities,
indignities, inequality and discrimination.

16. The way women had suffered has been aptly reflected by an  author  who
has spoken with quite a speck of sensibility: -

“Dowry is an intractable disease for women, a bed of  arrows  for
annihilating  self-respect,  but  without  the  boon  of  wishful
death.”

17. Long back, Charles Fourier had stated “The extension of women’s rights
is the basic principle of all social progress”.

18. Recapitulating from the past, I may refer to certain  sayings  in  the
Smritis which put women in an elevated position.  This Court in  Nikku
Ram’s case (supra) had  already  reproduced  the  first  line  of  the
“Shloka”.  The second line of the same which is also significant is as
follows: -

“???? ?????? ? ????????? ???????????????: ??????:”

[Yatra tastu na pujyante sarvastatraphalah kriyah]

A free translation of the aforesaid is reproduced below:-

“All the actions become unproductive in a place,  where  they  are
not treated with proper respect and dignity.”

19. Another wise man of the past had his own way of putting it:

“???????????????????????????????????: |

?????????? ???????: ??????: ???????????????: ||”

[Bhartr bhratr pitrijnati swasruswasuradevaraih| Bandhubhisca
striyah pujyah bhusnachhadanasnaih||].

A free translation of the aforesaid is as follows:-

“The women are to be respected  equally  on  par  with  husbands,
brothers, fathers, relatives, in-laws and other kith and kin  and
while respecting, the women gifts like ornaments, garments,  etc.
should be given as token of honour.”

20. Yet again, the sagacity got reflected in following lines: -

“????? ???? ??????: ????????????? |

?????? ?????????? ??????????????? ?????? ||”

[Atulam yatra tattejah sarvadevasarirajam| Ekastham tadabhunnari
vyaptalokatrayam tvisa||]

A free translation of the aforesaid is reproduced below:-

“The incomparable valour  (effulgence)  born  from  the  physical
frames of all  the  gods,  spreading  the  three  worlds  by  its
radiance and combining together took the form of a woman.”

21. From the past, I travel to the  present  and  respectfully  notice  what
Lord Denning had to say about the equality of women and  their  role  in
the society: -

“A woman feels as keenly, thinks as clearly, as a  man.   She  in
her sphere does work as useful as man does in his.   She  has  as
much right to her freedom – to develop  her  personality  to  the
full as a man.   When  she  marries,  she  does  not  become  the
husband’s servant but his equal partner.  If  his  work  is  more
important in life of the community, her’s is  more  important  of
the family.  Neither can do without the other.  Neither is  above
the other or under the other.  They are equals.”

22. I have referred to certain pronouncements of this Court, the sayings  of
the sagacious ones, thinkers, poets, philosophers and jurists about  the
child and women only to emphasise that they play a seminal role  in  the
society.  The innocence of a child and the creative  intelligence  of  a
woman can never ever be brushed aside or marginalized.  Civilization  of
a country is known how it respects its women.  It is  the  requisite  of
the present day that people are made aware  that  it  is  obligatory  to
treat the women with  respect  and  dignity  so  that  humanism  in  its
conceptual essentiality remains alive.  Each member of  the  society  is
required to develop a scientific temper in the  modern  context  because
that is the social need of the present.  A cosmetic  awareness  campaign
would never subserve the purpose.  The authorities  of  the  Government,
the Non-Governmental Organisations and other volunteers are required  to
remember  that  there  has  to  be  awareness  camps  which  are  really
effective.  The people involved with the same  must  take  it  up  as  a
service, a crusade.  They must understand and accept that it is  an  art
as well as a science and not simple  arithmetic.   It  cannot  take  the
colour of a routine speech.  The awareness camps should not  be  founded
on the theory of Euclidian geometry.  It  must  engulf  the  concept  of
social vigilance with an analytical mind and radiate into the marrows of
the society.  If awareness campaigns are not appositely  conducted,  the
needed guidance for the people would be without meaning and things shall
fall apart and everyone would try to take shelter in  cynical  escapism.
It is difficult to precisely state  how  an  awareness  camp  is  to  be
conducted.  It will depend upon what kind and strata of people are being
addressed to.  The persons  involved  in  such  awareness  campaign  are
required to equip  themselves  with  constitutional  concepts,  culture,
philosophy, religion, scriptural commands and injunctions,  the  mandate
of the law as engrafted under the Act and above all the  development  of
modern science.  It needs no special emphasis to state that in awareness
camps while the deterrent facets of law are required to  be  accentuated
upon, simultaneously  the  desirability  of  law  to  be  followed  with
spiritual obeisance, regard being had to the purpose of the Act, has  to
be stressed upon.  The seemly synchronization shall bring  the  required
effect.  That apart, documentary films can be  shown  to  highlight  the
need; and instill the idea in the mind of the public at large, for  when
mind becomes strong, mountains do melt.   The  people  involved  in  the
awareness campaigns should have boldness and courage.  There should  not
be any iota of confusion or perplexity in their thought or action.  They
should treat it as a  problem  and  think  that  a  problem  has  to  be
understood in a proper manner to afford a solution.  They should bear in
mind that they are required to change the mindset  of  the  people,  the
grammar  of  the  society  and  unacceptable  beliefs  inherent  in  the
populace.  It should be clearly spelt out that female foeticide  is  the
worst type of dehumanisation of the human race.

23. I  have  highlighted  the  aforesaid  aspects  so  that  when  awareness
campaigns are held, they are kept in view, for that is  the  object  and
purpose to have real awareness.

24. The matter be listed as directed.

………………………..J.
[Dipak Misra]

New Delhi;
March 04, 2013.
———————–
[1]    (2001) 5 SCC 577

[2]    (1995) 6 SCC 219

[3]    AIR 1997 SC 699

[4]    (1997) 7 SCC 110

[5]    AIR 1996 SC 1864