SC slams Delhi for dip in sex ratio

City
No conviction in sex determination cases, mechanism ineffective: Bench

The Supreme Court on Tuesday criticised the declining female child ratio in the Capital when it said that the Delhi government mechanism to punish violators of pre-natal sex determination laws did not appear to be effective.

A bench of Justices K S Radhakrishnan and Dipak Misra also took strong exception to the fact that there was not a single conviction under the Pre-Conception and Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques (Prohibition of Sex Selection) Act in Delhi though the government claimed to have registered cases of violations.

"Your own statistics show that there has been a constant decline in the sex ratio in the last three years, up to 2011. Why is it so? Moreover, cases that you initiated against the violators have been pending in courts for years now and there is not even a single conviction. It does not seem that you are pursuing these cases in courts, so that they are brought to logical conclusion and there is a deterrence effect," the bench said.

The court wondered if the government was taking "any interest" in proper prosecution or if it thought that filing cases was enough. "You have not convicted anybody. We don't think you have an effective mechanism. Your job is not over only after you file cases. There are 47 court cases pending," the bench said.

The apex court said it will have to pass directions to the principal sessions judges of Delhi courts to ensure that all cases under the PNDT Act are concluded within a particular time frame. It also said government must upload all information about the hospitals and doctors found guilty under the charges.

During the proceedings, the bench favoured an active campaign on the issue of female foeticide: "Why is there gender inequality? You must hold awareness campaigns to tell people that they should love a girl child like they love a male child. The Act must also be implemented in letter and spirit."

In its affidavit, the government's health secretary, who was personally present on the court's order, conceded that the child sex ratio 0-6 years (CSR) had shown a decline from 868 in 2001 to 866 in census 2011 and that it was on the decline in the last three years too. The national CSR is 920 female per 1000 male child.

"It is submitted that the government is even monitoring birth data of 50 major hospitals every month to look for significant deviations. Such deviations are also being monitored through surveillance on such hospitals by the district appropriate authorities," the affidavit stated.

It was also said that the Social Welfare department was implementing the Ladli scheme to encourage birth of the girl child through facilitating and empowering families with financial support.

The bench remained unimpressed with the argument and said it will pass a formal order on receiving suggestions from additional solicitor general H P Raval and amicus curiae Colin Gonsalves in the matter.

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