New Delhi : The Supreme Court directed the Centre to set up a nodal agency to act on public information on advertisements promoting sex determination techniques/kits on the Internet.
The apex court said its direction on the nodal agency was in addition to the order passed on September 19 to direct the Internet search engines that they were under obligation to see that the “doctrine of auto block” is applied within a reasonable period of time.
These advertisements on sex determination techniques/kits could be reached through Internet search engines of Google India, Yahoo India and Microsoft Corporation (India) Ltd.
Anything that offends the Pre-conception and Pre-natal Diagnostic Techniques (Prohibition of Sex Selection) Act, 1994, or the sex ratio would be taken away/deleted from the three search engines, the court said.
The Supreme Court observed that India did not need ‘knowledge’ on sex determination techniques/kits as the country was already faced with decreasing sex ratio.
“Human race is facing a problem. In some places, boys are not getting married as there are no girls,” a bench of Justice Dipak Misra and Justice Amitava Roy remarked.
“Whether you can have a boy or a girl that kind of knowledge is not needed in India,” Justice Misra said.
The court’s observations came as it brushed aside submissions by senior counsel Abhishek Manu Singhvi, K.V. Vishwanathan and Anupam Lal Das, appearing for Google India, Yahoo India and Microsoft Corporation (India) respectively.
The court was told that Section 22 of the PNDT Act prohibits commercial promotion of sex determination techniques and not text on this subject used by medical students and researchers.
Singhvi said they should be heard on the legal aspects of the issue before the court passed an order.
The court was hearing a public interest litigation by Sabu Mathew George who sought curbs on advertisements commercially promoting sex determination techniques/kits and other related things.
Distancing from the position taken by the search engines, Additional Solicitor General P.S. Narasimha told the bench that Section 22 of the ACt was an inclusive definition and not restricted to advertisements as understood in common parlance.
The position taken by Narasimha assumes significance as senior counsel Anupam Lal Das had told the bench that they (search engines and the government) were on the same page but the Healthy Ministry has taken a contrary position on the issue.
The court, by its last order, had ordered the three search engines to put in place an in-house procedure/method to weed out advertisements promoting sex selection techniques/kits.