The government on Tuesday informed the Supreme Court that it has set up a nodal agency to redress complaints seeking deletion of materials violating Indian laws prohibiting pre-natal sex determination, from search engines and websites.
A bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra considered the submission of Solicitor General Ranjit Kumar, representing the Centre, that the nodal agency was functional and besides taking action on complaints, it also kept tabs on websites to ensure that there was no information available in the virtual world on pre-natal sex determination.
To this, the bench, which also comprised Justices Amitava Roy and A M Khanwilkar, said “the nodal agency should also be monitoring on its own to ensure that such materials are not there on websites…the nodal agency can take suo motu (on its own) note of any violation.”
The solicitor general, however, said that it will not be “possible” for government servants to keep checking all websites as “this is such a huge, huge virtual world”. The nodal agency has been taking up issues of violation of the 1994 Pre-Conception and Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques (PCPNDT) Act, if complaints are brought before it, he said.
Meanwhile, the counsel for search engines, Google, Yahoo and Microsoft, which are parties before the court, informed the bench that in pursuance to earlier order, they have set up “in-house mechanism” to deal with issues of hosting or posting of materials on sites relating to sex-determination. Section 22 of the PCPNDT Act pertains to prohibition of advertisements relating to pre-natal determination of sex and punishment for contravention.
The court was hearing a petition by Sabu Mathew George, a doctor who is seeking the apex court’s intervention in view of the falling sex ratio in the country. The court, which has posted the matter for hearing on November 24, allowed lawyer Sanjay Parikh to give suggestions on ways to deal with violations of the law on pre-natal sex-determination.
Earlier, the apex court had asked Google India Pvt Ltd, Yahoo India and Microsoft Corporation (I) Pvt Ltd to appoint an in-house expert body which would take steps “if any words or key words that is shown on internet and which has the potential to go counter to section 22 of PCPNDT Act shall be deleted forthwith.” It had also asked the Centre to set up a nodal agency to deal with complaints of violations of the law.
The PCPNDT Act was enacted to stop female foeticides and arrest the declining sex ratio in India. It had banned pre-natal sex determination.