The Pre-Conception and Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques (PCPNDT) Act, which aimed at stopping female foeticide and arresting declining sex ratio in India by banning and penalising sex determination of unborn babies, is not being implemented effectively and there is a huge need to sensitise society on it, say experts.
“The act was brought in as a socially beneficial legislation, aimed at eradicating the persistent evil of sex-selective ultrasound tests but the proper and effective implementation of the law has run into rough weather for a variety of reasons,” advocate Indira Unninayar said in a press meet which stressed “how sex-determination test offenders are getting away with murder” here on Tuesday.
Unninayar, along with other activists and lawyers, drew attention to the glaring loopholes in implementation of the law, and how certain hospitals and ‘imaging centres’ exploit them to indulge in gross illegalities and enjoy impunity.
Referring to the case of Mitu Khurana, who has been fighting a courageous battle against her being deceived into having a sex-determination test, she said: “Both the government and prosecution are reluctant to, and/or have shown insufficient interest in ensuring that the law is enforced in both letter and spirit.”
On September 16, the Supreme Court dismissed Khurana’s appeals against the Delhi High Court ruling in a manner which can be termed as “grossly erroneous” at best, said Unninayar.
“There is an acute lack of sensitivity on the part of judges when it comes to the issue of both interpreting the law as well as awarding punishment to convicts,” Unninayar said.
According to advocate Anu Narula, judges interpret the provisions of the Act in a very pedantic and legalistic manner when socially-beneficial legislations are to be interpreted liberally.
Moreover, more often than not, judges bestow judicial benevolence on offenders in the most unjust of manners.
“Cases remain pending, the prosecution often displays utter callousness in going on appeal against rulings which militate against both the letter and spirit of the law,” she said.
Describing Khurana as a role model, Bijayalakshmi, a faculty member of Miranda House College, said: “Mitu was carrying twin daughters, and her husband and in-laws tried all means possible to get her to abort. However, she stood her ground, bore the brunt of all the physical, mental torture and other forms of domestic violence, and is now raising her children as a single parent.”
“We wish to provide a platform to those who, are not in a position to access the justice delivery system, and are forced to suffer in silence. We are soon going to start “Justice for Mitu Khurana” campaign,” said activist Indu Prakash Singh.