Voluntary Health Association of Punjab v. State of Punjab
DATE OF JUDGMENT: 08/11/2016
COURT: Supreme Court of India
JUDGES: Dipak Misra, Shiva Kirti Singh
REFERENCE: WRIT PETITION (CIVIL) NO. 349 OF 2006
Petitioner: Voluntary Health Association of Punjab
Respondent: State of Punjab
SUBJECT: The judgment revolves around the social evil of sex selective abortion and the grave need to undertake measures to resolve the same.
FACTS: The petitioners filed a writ petition under Article 32 of the Constitution seeking direction to the Union of India for effective implementation of the Pre-conception and Pre- natal Diagnostic Techniques (Prohibition of Sex Selection) Act, 1994 and The Pre-conception and Pre-natal Diagnostic Techniques (Prohibition of Sex Selection) Rules, 1996
The Indian Constitution:
- Article 32: Remedies for enforcement of rights conferred by Part III
- The right to move the Supreme Court by appropriate proceedings for the enforcement of the rights conferred by this Part is guaranteed
- The Supreme Court shall have power to issue directions or orders or writs, including writs in the nature of habeas corpus, mandamus, prohibition, quo warranto and certiorari, whichever may be appropriate, for the enforcement of any of the rights conferred by Part III
- Article 21: No person shall be deprived of his life or personal liberty except according to the procedure established by law.
1. Whether there is a need to formulate guidelines for the effective implementation of the Pre-conception and Pre-natal Diagnostic Techniques (Prohibition of Sex Selection) Act, 1994 and The Pre-conception and Pre-natal Diagnostic Techniques (Prohibition of Sex Selection) Rules, 1996?
The petitioner contended that,
- The rise of pre-natal diagnostic centres in urban areas of the country using pre-natal diagnostic techniques for determination of sex of the foetus and that the said centres had become very popular and had tremendous growth, as the female child is not welcomed many Indian families and the consequence that such centres became centres for female foeticide which affected the dignity and status of women.
- Female foeticide has its roots in the social thinking, which is fundamentally based on certain erroneous notions, egocentric traditions, perverted perception of societal norms and obsession with ideas which are totally individualistic sans the collective good. All involved in female foeticide deliberately forget to realise that when the foetus of a girl child is destroyed, a woman of the future is crucified.
Taking account of the petitioner’s contention the respondent was asked to submit reports to furnish the measures taken by them to prevent sex selective abortions.
The Court finally held that, when a female foetus is destroyed through artificial means which is legally impermissible, the dignity of life of a woman to be born is extinguished. It corrodes the human values. The Legislature has brought a complete code and it subserves the constitutional purpose, but the object is not achieved by improper implementation.
Therefore, the Court gave direction to the respondents for the effective implementation of the said Acts. Some of the notable directions include:
- Conducting campaigns and awareness programmes to educate people
- Maintain a record of number of pregnancies and birth
- Immediate legal action against anyone who violates the Act and Rules.