Stop sex-determination contents on websites : SC

SansadTV Bureau
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File Photo (PTI)

The Supreme Court on Thursday said that an effort has to be made to ensure that websites like Google India, Yahoo India and Microsoft Corporation (I) Pvt Ltd do not show contents in violation of the Indian law prohibiting sex determination of a foetus.

“In our considered opinion, an effort has to be made to see that nothing contrary to laws of this country are advertised or shown on these websites.

“However, for the said purpose, we would like to have the assistance from the competent authority from the Department of Information and Technology. We would request Ranjit Kumar, Solicitor General, to assist us on the next date, being assisted by a competent officer, as it involves technical issues,” a bench of justices Dipak Misra and U U Lalit said.

The court also expressed unhappiness over a 2010 affidavit of Group Coordinator, Cyber Laws Formulation and Enforcement Division of Department of Information Technology, that the Centre cannot block such contents on websites as pre-natal sex determination is not an offence in other countries and moreover, these sites have servers outside India.

“As we understand from the affidavit, it reflects a kind of helplessness by the said deponent. That apart, we do not appreciate the manner in which the stand has been expressed in paragraph (s) of the counter affidavit…,” it said.

During the hearing, the counsel for the websites today said that they do not violate the Indian law and they merely “provide a corridor, they do not have any control”.

The bench then listed the matter for hearing on December 15 saying, “Be that as it may, a legal solution has to be arrived at.”

It was alleged that despite the legal prohibition, websites like Google India, Yahoo India and Microsoft Corporation (I) Pvt Ltd are “still getting things advertised in violation of the legal provisions contained in the Pre-conception and Pre-natal Diagnostic Techniques (Prohibition of Sex Selection) Act…”.

The court was hearing a PIL filed by NGO Voluntary Health Association of Punjab seeking court’s intervention in view of decreasing number of girl child in the country.

Earlier, the court had come down heavily on various states for their failure to stop female foeticide leading to alarming drop in the sex ratio in the country.

It had asked two joint secretaries and one additional secretary of Union Health Ministry to convene a meeting of senior officials of Uttar Pradesh, Haryana and National Capital Territory Delhi on December 3 to check “relevant registers” and records that had formed the basis of the sex-ratio data provided by them.

The court had also wanted to know as to whether the states have any plan to give “individual incentives” to the families to save the girl child.

The NGO has said there is “severe decline” in the sex-ratio and almost all the states, which have filed the affidavits, have admitted to this.

The apex court had on March 4 last year directed the Centre and state governments to take quick and tough action against people indulging in female foeticide and had passed a slew of directions for effective implementation of PNDT Act.

It had directed the governments to map all ultra- sonography clinics within three months and asked the lower courts to dispose all cases for violation of the Act within a period of six months to bring the accused to book.

It had also said that 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.

The average count of girl child (0-6 years) in the country has dropped to 914 per 1000 boys as per the Census 2011 which was earlier 927 in the 2001 Census.