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The Supreme Court on Thursday directed search engines Google, Yahoo and Microsoft’s Bing to immediately appoint internal expert bodies to identify and remove advertisements linked to pre-natal sex-determination. “You can’t violate the laws of the country. You must become responsive to Indian law,” said a bench dissatisfied with attempts by the search engines to ensure that all web results pertaining to pre-natal sex-determination tests are removed.
The court asked the companies why they were reluctant to comply with legal prohibitions on pre-natal sex determination in India when when they have abided by similar directions in other countries. “Earlier also, there were several examples of foreign jurisdictions banning similar content, so why not in India? They have not shown a proper attitude by claiming that even content on illegal issues such as rape and murder cannot be blocked,” the bench said.
Hearing a PIL that seeks a ban on such content online, the court warned the search engines of strict action in case they do not do enough to stop advertisements or leading web surfers to material propagating sex determination. The search engines had told the court they respected Indian laws but cited several handicaps in setting up internal expert committees to track violations. The top court, however, explained that its only objective was to help check the decline in sex ratio, a problem that was “likely to affect the prospects of human race”.
According to the procedure prescribed by the court, a complaint against an illegal advertisement has to be brought to the notice of the nodal agency, which will then immediately inform the concerned search engine or the corridor provider.