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Pre-Conception and Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques (PCPNDT) Act, 1994

Context:

In a recent case, the Delhi High Court has stated that some aspects of the PC & PNDT Act need to be reconsidered to ensure effective implementation. This observation was made while the court was hearing a plea filed by a man seeking the quashing of an FIR registered against him under various sections of the Act.

Relevance:

GS II: Polity and Governance

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Pre-Conception and Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques (PCPNDT) Act
  2. Concerns Raised by the Delhi High Court

Pre-Conception and Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques (PCPNDT) Act

  • The Pre-Conception and Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques (PCPNDT) Act, 1994 is an Act of the Parliament of India enacted to curb female foeticides and arrest the declining sex ratio in the country.
  • The act prohibits prenatal sex determination and regulates the use of prenatal diagnostic techniques.
Objectives:
  • The main objective of the PCPNDT Act is to ban the use of sex selection techniques before or after conception and prevent the misuse of prenatal diagnostic techniques for sex-selective abortion.
Provisions:
  • The PCPNDT Act regulates the use of prenatal diagnostic techniques, like ultrasound machines, allowing their use only to detect certain genetic abnormalities, metabolic disorders, chromosomal abnormalities, and congenital malformations, haemoglobinopathies, and sex-linked disorders.
  • No laboratory, centre or clinic is allowed to conduct any test, including ultrasonography, for the purpose of determining the sex of the foetus.
  • No person, including the one who is conducting the procedure as per the law, is allowed to communicate the sex of the foetus to the pregnant woman or her relatives by words, signs or any other method.
  • Any person who advertises pre-natal and pre-conception sex determination facilities or engages in any visible representation made by means of hoarding, wall painting, signal, light, sound, etc., can be imprisoned for up to three years and fined Rs. 10,000.
Purpose:
  • The PCPNDT Act aims to promote gender equality, prevent the misuse of prenatal diagnostic techniques, and curb the practice of female foeticide in India.
  • It ensures that prenatal diagnostic techniques are only used for medical reasons and not for sex selection.

Offences under the Pre-Conception and Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques (PCPNDT) Act

  • Conducting or aiding in prenatal diagnostic techniques in unregistered facilities is prohibited.
  • Sex selection of a male or female fetus is prohibited.
  • Performing prenatal diagnostic techniques for any purpose other than those specified in the act is an offence.
  • The sale, distribution, supply, renting, etc. of any equipment that is capable of detecting the sex of the fetus, such as ultrasound machines, is prohibited.

Concerns Raised by the Delhi High Court

  • Practicality of avoiding police involvement in raids: The court observed that though the PC & PNDT Rules suggest avoiding police involvement in raids, seizure, etc., in practice, such action has to be as per the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) for conducting raids at facilities/clinics.
  • Lack of power to arrest for the Appropriate Authority: Although the Appropriate Authority is given the power to investigate and conduct raids, cancel or suspend the registration of medical centers and facilities that violate the PC & PNDT Act, it does not have the power to arrest anyone under this Act.
  • Low conviction rate: The court noted that the conviction rate for violations of the PC & PNDT Act is very low, indicating a failure of the justice system to effectively prosecute offenders and prevent the illegal practice of sex-selective abortion.

-Source: Indian Express


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