Supreme Court on Banning online pre-natal sex determination content

The Supreme Court on Tuesday observed that a general ban on all online content about prenatal sex determination will curtail the fundamental right (right to know under Article 19 (1))to know of a genuine information-seeker who is driven by curiousity.

Court Observation

  • Prenatal sex determination ads is an offence.
  • But a general prohibitory order against all online information pertaining to sex determination is dangerous.
  • It will be curtailing the right to know under Article 19 (1) (a) of the Constitution

Background

The ban on sex determination advertisements under Section 22 of the Prenatal and Pre-Conception Sex Diagnostic Techniques Act is restricted only to paid advertisements. In February, the court ordered Google, Microsoft and Yahoo to immediately set up their own in-house expert bodies to keep tabs and delete prohibited online prenatal sex determination ads.

What is the Difference ?

  • Distinction between the right to know of an information seeker and the purely commercial objectives of those who post online sex determination ads to make money.
  • There should be a restriction on sex determination ads only.

Why banning the ads ?

  • India’s sex ratio in children up to 6 years of age had dropped from 945 girls for every 1000 boys in 1991 to 927 girls in 2001, the year of the last census.
  • The figure was less than 800 in several states, including affluent urban districts.
  • Health officials accept estimates that tens of thousands of female fetuses are still aborted each year throughout the country after expectant parents learn the sex of their fetus through ultrasonography aimed at spotting birth defects.
  • 400 cases have been filed against doctors or clinics for violations of the law prohibiting prenatal determination of sex, only about 20 have been convicted.

Alternative option to control female fetuses

  • Expand campaigns to generate awareness, which rely on members of parliament, religious leaders, social activists, and health workers to reduce preferences for sons.
  • Society as a whole begins to rebel against the practice of female feticide

Source : The Hindu

GS II : Developmental Studies of vulnerable sections of the population

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