SC DIRECTS MICROSOFT, GOOGLE AND YAHOO TO DROP FOETAL SEX TEST ADVERTISEMENTS IMMEDIATELY
“Whether one is going to have a boy or a girl, that kind of information is not necessary in India. The sex ratio is going down in the country and we are concerned about that. Whether you are making money or not we are not concerned with that”
- Supreme Court
Supreme Court today (16/11/2016) directed Microsoft, Google and Yahoo to block all pre-natal sex determination advertisements hosted by them as it was a violation of the Pre-Conception and Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques (Prohibition of Sex Selection) Act, 1994 as per which sex determination of the foetus is prohibited in India.
A bench headed by Justice Dipak Misra asked the search engines to do so within 36 hours of a nodal agency of the Centre, which is to be appointed, pointed out to them each such advertisements.
The nodal agency is also empowered to receive complaints from the general public:
“Union of India shall constitute a nodal agency which would give advertisments on TV, radio and in newspapers that if anybody comes across anything which identify a girl or a boy (at pre-natal stage), it should be brought to the notice of the nodal agency. Once it is brought to the notice of the nodal agency, it shall inform the search engines and they, after receiving the information, are obliged to delete it within 36 hours and inform the nodal agency, the bench said.
The apex court, which fixed the matter for further hearing on February 17 next year, said the interim arrangement would continue till the issue pertaining to advertisements relating to pre-natal sex determination was debated upon before it.
The apex court was acting on a petition filed by Sabu Mathew George who is a member of the National Inspection and Monitoring Committee set up by the SC in 2003 to inspect and report the implementation of the Pre-Conception and Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques (Prohibition of Sex Selection) Act, 1994.
The plea said such advertisements flooded the internet after the Pre-Natal Diagnostics Technique (PNDT) Act, which came into force in 1994 to crack down on female foeticide, and banned the publication of such ads in the print media.
According to the latest estimates, five lakh female foetuses are aborted annually.
UNICEF, in a recent report, said that India has lost over one crore girls since 2007.
Eighty per cent of the districts in India have recorded an increasingly skewed sex ratio since 1991, the report said.
The 1994 (Pre-Conception and Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques) Act says nobody shall propagate (pre-natal sex determination) and if anyone is propagating, it has to be stopped, it said. Whatever is prohibited under the Act cannot go through it (websites), the bench observed, adding, If anyone comes across anything which offends or has an impact on the sex ratio in India, it shall be removed by the search engines within 36 hours. Senior advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi, who was appearing for Google India Pvt Ltd, said they have complied with the earlier order passed by the apex court in the matter and they have already taken steps to block any such advertisements.
The counsel appearing for the other search engines also said that they have taken steps to comply with the provisions of the Act. However, they contended that the matter requires further debate.
Copy of Order is attached.