Mother and Child Health – Immunization Program, BPBB, PMJSY, PMMSY, etc.

PCPNDT Act and rule changes during pandemic

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Not much

Mains level : Paper 2-PCPNDT Act

The article deals with the issues of suspension of some requirements under PCPNDT Act. It also discusses the role judiciary played in 25-years jurisprudence around the Act.

Context

  • Last week, the Supreme Court deferred a pronouncement on the legality of the Centre’s now-lapsed controversial notification relating to the rules of the law banning sex-selective abortions.
  • The apex court similarly erred on the side of caution in June, choosing not to stay the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare’s gazette notification.

What were the changes

  • One of the rules requires a five-yearly renewal of registration of genetic laboratories, ultrasound clinics and imaging centres, subject to the fulfilment of eligibility criteria.
  • Another mandate to submit monthly records on the conduct of pregnancy-related procedures to the designated authority.
  • State governments and Union Territories are required to furnish quarterly reports to the Centre on the implementation of the law.
  • The Union Health Ministry had maintained that various procedural deadlines were relaxed in the wake of the public health crisis and that such flexibility would in no way jeopardise the larger objectives of the law.

Issues with the suspension

  • Activists saw no rationale behind the suspension of rules, since the operation of diagnostic laboratories had been declared essential services.
  • They were understandably apprehensive that the freeze would result in large-scale violations.
  • It is one thing to offer relaxation for delays in the completion of formalities via an administrative order, but altogether another to declare a freeze via a gazette notification, they argued.

Court judgements on PCPNDT Act

  • The 25-year jurisprudence around the PCPNDT legislation does not justify a casual approach on the enforcement of its various provisions.
  • The Court last year ruled that the non-maintenance of medical records as per Section 23 of the PCPNDT Act could serve as a conduit in the grave offence of foeticide.
  • In its 2016 judgment, the Supreme Court authorised the seizure of illegal equipment from clinics and the suspension of their registration as well as speedy disposal of relevant cases by the States.

Consider the question “How far has the PCPNDT Act been successful in dealing with the menace of sex-selective abortion? What are the shortcomings in the Act?”

Conclusion

Crucially, the alarming decline witnessed in recent decades in India’s sex ratio at birth calls for uncompromising adherence to public policy, more than is evident from evolving case law.

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