SC raps Centre for not publicising order on female foeticide

female foeticideThe Supreme Court on Wednesday expressed displeasure over the conduct of Centre, Delhi government and various states for not giving wide publicity to its directions on female foeticide for strict implementation of law prohibiting sex determination.A bench of Justice Dipak Misra and Prafulla C Pant slammed Bihar government over “low” prosecution rate of cases relating to female foeticide in the state after noting that no case has been registered after 2013.

The court noted that Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques (Prohibition of sex selection) Act has been in operation from 1994 but only 159 cases have been instituted and 126 cases are pending since 2012-2013 in various courts in Bihar.

“We cannot restrain ourselves from observing that had there been apposite awareness among the competent authorities in all possibility, the result would have been different.

“Lack of awareness is a known fact. In our considered opinion, the competent authorities who have been authorised under the Act to launch prosecution and also to see that the the Act is properly carried out and sex ratio is increased, are required to be given training,” the bench said.

The apex court asked the Chairman of the Bihar Judicial Academy of the Patna High Court to fix a time schedule for imparting the training.

“In our considered opinion, the cases under the 1994 Act should be dealt with in quite promptitude and the concerned courts have to treat the said cases with utmost primacy.

“In view of the aforesaid, we direct that the cases which are pending before the trial court shall positively be disposed of by end of October 2015,” the bench said.

During the proceedings, advocate Binu Tamta, appearing for the Centre, assured the bench that “appropriate” directions are issued to the authorities of All India Radio and Doordarshan functioning in various states to give wide publicity.

The court directed that the copy of the April 15 order be sent to the Principal Secretary, Health, and the Principal Secretary, Law, so that the order can be translated and be published in newspapers and broadcast by All India Radio and telecast by Doordarshan in an “appropriate” manner.

“We hope that by the next date of hearing, there would be substantial compliance…,” the bench said.

Female foeticide a deep shame: Modi

Female foeticide is a matter of “deep shame” and a “cause of great concern”, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said Saturday, the International Day of the Girl Child.

“On International Day of the Girl Child we celebrate the achievements of our daughters. From the classroom to sports, they shine everywhere,” he said in a tweet.

The prime minister added: “Female foeticide is a matter of deep shame and a cause of great concern. Lets work together to remove this menace from society.”

“Today let us pledge to create an atmosphere of equality for the girl child. There is no question of any discrimination based on gender,” he said.

SC fumes over sex tests, female foeticide

The Supreme Court Tuesday expressed its concern over the deteriorating sex ratio and chided state governments over their failure to check sex determination clinics and punish law violators fuelling female foeticide.

“People have a belief that if they don’t have a male child they will go to narak (hell)”, the court said, asking “where is this narak”?

The Pre-natal Diagnostic Techniques (Regulation and Prevention) Act, 1994, bans determination of the sex of a foetus in womb.

The apex court bench of Justice K.S. Radhakrishnan and Justice Dipak Misra while perusing reports filed by Punjab, Haryana, Delhi, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Maharashtra said that “there is a lackadaisical attitude (in the enforcement agencies). How to wake them up?”

The court said that it would hold quarterly monitoring of the steps taken by state governments to stop determination of sex.

“Why there is no awareness that girl child is equally loveable as boy,” the court said, inquiring from counsel.

Justice Misra said that at the awareness camps the people should be told that “female child is better than male child as girls have neuron which makes them wise”.

Aghast at the submission by Bihar that they were not even aware of female foeticide and sex-determination test, Justice Radhakrishnan said: “It is an alarming situation” that they were unaware of the existence of female foeticide.

Taking a dig at Punjab’s poor record on checking sex determination, Justice Misra said that its affidavit was “well drafted”, but “there is lethargy on the part of the police in enforcing the ban”.

Amicus curiae Colin Gonsalves told the court that states’ affidavits concealed more than they revealed about the actual state of affairs.

Gonsalves told the court that the so-called conviction that have shown in papers was nothing but imposition of a fine of Rs.500-1,000 on the violators of the prohibition.

He told the court that ultra-sound machines sealed by enforcement agencies for sex determination at clinics were still lying in their premises. The machines get unsealed after paying a small fine.

Haryana health secretary Navraj Sandhu, who was present, told the court that the health department alone could not enforce the ban.

Sandhu told the court that it was only through the collective efforts of all the stake holders including police, education department, political leadership and the society that the problem of female foeticide could be dealt with.

Describing it as a problem of mindset, Sandhu said in Haryana educated and well-to-do people were going in for sex determination tests.

Adjourning the hearing, the court asked Additional Solicitor General Harin Raval to go through all the affidavits filed by different states and suggest which was the better model to eliminate the pre-natal sex determination tests.

Female foeticide: Maharashtra doctor in police custody

A doctor and two midwives were on Sunday remanded to police custody till June 6 by a Maharashtra court for allegedly dumping two female foetuses under a flyover here.

“The magistrate’s court has remanded doctor Shivaji Sanap and midwives Javadebai and Ghighebai to police custody till June 6. They were taken into custody late Saturday after we traced the dumped foetuses to Sanap’s hospital,” Vidyanand Kale, investigating officer, told IANS.

Beed is a district in central Maharashtra, around 450 km from Mumbai.

The government has constituted five teams, each comprising a tehsildar, a medical officer, a block development officer and a police sub-inspector, to check female foeticide in the district.

Maharashtra Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan Saturday announced a reward for Rs.5 lakh for anyone who exposes a female foeticide case.

Beed was in news last month after an illegal abortion racket, involving a doctor couple, was exposed in Parli town. Accused Sudam Munde and his wife Saraswati Munde are still absconding.

Falling child sex ratio is national shame: PM

Calling for a “crusade” to curb bias against women, prime minister Manmohan Singh on Thursday said the practice of female foeticide and infanticide was a “national shame”.

Addressing bureaucrats at a function here, Manmohan Singh said Indian girls and women “have done us proud in classrooms, in boardrooms and on the sports field. They have broken existing barriers to prove their worth in almost every sphere”.

But, he said, “the falling child sex ratio (as shown in the latest census data) is an indictment of our social values”.

Manmohan Singh said this couldn’t be improved by merely strict compliance with the existing laws.

“What is more important is how we view and value the girl child in our society,” he said.

According to the census data, the child sex ratio in the country (0-6 years) has touched the lowest levels since independence.

In 2001 it was was 927 females per 1000 males born, which declined to 914 females per 1000 males in 2010-11 Census.

Manmohan Singh said: “It is a national shame for us that despite this, female foeticide and infanticide continue in many parts of our country.”

He stressed that the “social bias against women has to be fought with all the physical and moral resources at our command. There has to be a national campaign to counter this bias and I expect civil servants to play a big role in launching a crusade against it.”

50 percent women married as minors: Experts

Nearly 50 percent of marriages in India involve minors – children under the age of 18 years, thanks to the poor implementation of the law, experts said Monday.

‘The consequence of child marriage is in conflict with the development aspirations of the country,’ Ranjana Kumari, president of the WomenPowerConnect (WPC), said at a national workshop on gender inequalities.

She was referring to the National Family Health Survey 3, which has reported that 45 percent women aged 20-24 years were already married before the age of 18 years.

‘It (child marriage) perpetuates health problems, marital violence, poverty and economic inequality, lack of education and awareness, lack of reproductive choice and access to measures of fertility management,’ she stressed.

‘It is important to know that the high economic growth that we are boasting about is not directly leading to better social development due to practices like child marriage, domestic violence and female foeticide still plaguing our country,’ added Kumari.

According to National Family Health Survey 3, the median age at first marriage for women between the age 25 -49 years was 16.8 years, while that for men in the same age group was 22.7 years.

The seminar highlighted ways to improve implementation of Prohibition of Child marriage Act (PCMA) 2006, domestic violence act and the need to ensure passage of women’s reservation bill.

Under the law, a child or minor is a person up to 18 years in the case of girls and 21 years in the case of boys.