The Asian Centre for Human Rights (ACHR), in its new report, “The State of the PC&PNDT Act: India’s losing battle against female foeticide”, which focuses on the on the status of implementation of the Pre-Conception and Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques (PC&PNDT) Act, 1994, has said that the Act has not been implementation in 23 States/UTs, even as 1.3 million girls are found to be “missing” every year.
The 290-page report says, “More cases of infanticide under Indian Penal Code were registered than cases under the PC&PNDT Act during 1994-2014, and this exposes abysmal implementation of the PC&PNDT Act.”
Pointing out that “India registered 2,266 cases of infanticide under Section 315 and Section 316 of the Indian Penal Code against 2,021 cases under the PC&PNDT Act during 1994-2014.”, the report says, “During 1991 to 2011, a total of 25.5 million girls, i.e. 1.3 million girls per year, went missing primarily because of the sex selection.”
“As only 2,021 court and police cases were filed from 1994 to 2014 under the PC&PNDT Act, it implies that on an average only one court case was filed approximately for 12,614 cases of sex selection:, the report notes, adding, “As conviction was secured only in 206 cases during 1994-2014, it also implies that only one conviction was secured per 1,23,755 cases of sex selection.”
The report further says, “As many as 17 out of 29 States and six out of seven Union Territories (UTs) had either not registered any case or failed to secure any conviction under the PC&PNDT Act as on date”, adding, “All these states are covered under the Beti Bachao Beti Padao scheme, the flagship programme launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to arrest the falling Child Sex Ratio (CSR) under the age of 0-6 years.”
According to the report, the states and UTs which had not secured a single conviction under the PC&PNDT Act since 1994 are Arunachal Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, Kerala, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Sikkim, Tripura, Andaman & Nicobar Island, Dadra & Nagar Haveli, Daman & Diu, Lakshadweep and Puducherry, Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Goa, Jharkhand, Karnataka , Tamil Nadu, Uttarakhand and West Bengal and Union Territories of Chandigarh.
Out of these, it adds, Arunachal Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, Kerala, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Sikkim, Tripura, Andaman & Nicobar Island, Dadra & Nagar Haveli, Daman & Diu, Lakshadweep and Puducherry had not registered a single case under the PC&PNDT Act since 1994.
Regretting that “the Child Sex Ratio (CSR) is all set to fall further from 919 as per 2011 census to below 900 as per the current sex ratio at birth being registered by the Sample Registration System (SRS) Statistical Report”, the report criticizes governments for under-reporting "actual number of missing girls due to sex selection.”
The report takes strong except to the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare's proposed amendments to the PC&PNDT Act in March 2016, which seeks to “weaken the Act further at the insistence of the medical lobby.”
“The proposed amendment seeks to restrict the scope and operation of Section 23 (1) only to cases where the accused medical professional 'indulges in or assists or aids sex determination/selection or for conducting pre-natal diagnostic techniques on any person for the purposes other than those specified in sub-section (2) of Section 4', while the existing provision of Section 23 (1) covers contravention of 'any of the provisions of this Act or Rules made thereunder',” the report says.
It adds, “Once the proposed amendment is allowed, the irregularities in record keeping as per Form F which are part and parcel of sex selective tests would escape the rigours of the existing Section 23 as the prosecutors shall have to prove indulgence in or assistance or aiding sex determination/selection or for conducting pre-natal diagnostic techniques by the accused medical professionals or diagnostic centers/clinics. ”