The Supreme Court yesterday refused to stay an order issued by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW) suspending some provisions of the Pre-Conception and Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques (Prohibition of Sex Selection Rules) amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Court has however issued notice to the centre in the plea challenging this sex selection rules order.
The Bench comprising of Justices UU Lalit, MM Shantanagoudar, and Vineet Saran heard a PIL challenging the order passed in April.
The PIL filed by Sabu Mathew George argued that this suspension of the Rules was without jurisdiction. However, the Court pointed out that the order appears to have been passed in the background of the COVID-19 pandemic, during which time there is a need for the “services of the doctors to be conserved for the pandemic.”
The suspension of these rules was in force till June 30, the Court pointed out. It granted liberty to the petitioner to raise the issue again if the suspension of sex selection rules is extended beyond this date. Having said so, the Court has also asked the Centre to file a response to the plea while fixing the next date of hearing for the third week of July.
The Sex selection Rules that stood suspended under the MoHFW’s order pertain to Renewal Of Registration [Rule 8], Maintenance and Preservation of Record [Rule 9(8)], and Code of Conduct to be observed by the appropriate authorities [Rule 18A(6)].
The plea contended that by suspending these sex selection rules “without jurisdiction”, the Centre has weakened a legislation that aims at curbing pre-natal sex-determination and sex-selection. The Pre-Conception and Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques Act aims to remedy a social evil related to female foeticide and infanticide and this legislation has now been diluted by the Centre, the petitioner avers.
The petition stated,
“This will result in misuse of technology by unscrupulous individuals, who will no longer be deterred by the monitoring mechanism provided in the Rules.”
Pointing out that the dilution of the Rules will nullify the gains made by stricter implementation which was a direct consequence of the Supreme Court’s orders, the court said,
“The Supreme Court recorded this argument in its order, noting, “It is submitted by the writ petitioner that by issuing such notification, the very intendment of the legislation is getting defeated.”
It was further argued that the order is in effect till June 30, whereas the lockdown had ended and we are now in a stage of Unlock-1. On the grounds of being passed without jurisdiction or justification, the order deserves to be struck down, the petition finally submits.
The petitioner was represented by Senior Advocate Sanjay Parikh and the petition is filed through Advocate Srishti Agnihotri.
Read the petition here: