New Delhi [India], June 15 (ANI): The Supreme Court on Monday refused to stay the Central government's April 4 notification that suspended operation of some rules in the Pre-Conception and Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques Act (PCPNDT), 1994, and issued notice to the Centre on a plea challenging the notification.
A bench headed by Justice UU Lalit, hearing a plea claiming that the notification could be misused by unscrupulous sections to conduct sex determination tests freely, said that the issue of female foeticide is important but the notification is valid till June 30 and was issued due to the COVID-19 pandemic where doctors' services are required.
"It is a national crisis right now. Services of doctors, nursing staff are required elsewhere. Their services need to be conserved... But we give you the liberty to approach us if the notification is renewed after June 30," the bench told the petitioner.
The court posted the matter for further hearing in the third week of July while asking the Centre to file a response on the petition.
The petition filed by Sabu Mathew George, working for well- being of girl children for 35 years, said the notification dated April 4, suspended rules 8, 9(8) and 18 A (6) of the Pre-Conception and Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques Act (PCPNDT Act) and all these rules are to do with certain administrative procedures.
It said the Central government has "arbitrarily and selectively weakened a legislation aimed at curbing the pernicious activity of sex-selection and sex-determination".
By suspending the Rules, the Central government has diluted the PCPNDT Act, and this will result in misuse of technology by unscrupulous individuals, who will no longer be deterred by the monitoring mechanism provided in the Rules, the plea said.
"Exempting these requirements will derail the PCPNDT Act, and will provide scope for its misuse by letting sex determination go unchecked. The quarterly reports permit course correction, especially where any illegality is being carried out. Exemption from these provisions or relaxation in submission timelines will provide an opportunity for unscrupulous individuals misusing technology," it added.
Rule 8 of the PCPNDT Act pertains to the re-registration of genetic and ultrasound clinics whose licences are due to expire. According to the new notification, those labs seeking a renewal of their licences will not be allowed to do so until June 30.
Meanwhile, Rule 18A(6) requires all appropriate authorities to submit a quarterly report to the government, as well as maintain records of all licenced practitioners under the law.
The third rule to be affected by the notification, rule 9(8), requires genetic and ultrasound clinics to submit a detailed report of pre-conception or pregnancy-related procedures and tests it has carried out to the appropriate authority -- usually a district medical officer -- by the 5th of every month. (ANI)