Set up agency to stop sex determination content on search engines: SC

  • Set up agency to stop sex determination content on search engines: SC

Set up agency to stop sex determination content on search engines: SC

The Supreme Court on Wednesday directed the Centre to set up a nodal agency to act on public information on advertisements promoting sex determination techniques/kits on the Internet.

The apex court also directed the government to constitute a nodal agency to check pre-natal sex determination advertisements.

The order is in the nature of an interim order till February 17, which is when the matter is next posted.

Advocate Sanjay Parikh, showing up for petitioner Sabu Mathew George who is looking for the court's intercession in perspective of diminishing sex proportion, guaranteed that in spite of the order of the apex court, one can see advertisements and data relating to sexual determination on such websites.

'Whether one will have a boy or a girl, that kind of information is not necessary in India. "The sex ratio is going down here and we are concerned about that". It asked popular search engines like Google India, Yahoo India and Microsoft India to remove such content within 36 hours of receiving a complaint. However, they said the matter requires further debate.

Lawyer for Google, Abhishek Manu Singhvi, said such a blanket ban will not have desired impact and even if someone wants to learn about the Supreme Court judgements on pre natal sex determination, these will not show among the results.

The court was told that Section 22 of the PNDT Act prohibits commercial promotion of sex determination techniques and not text on this subject used by medical students and researchers.

Singhvi's stand was also supported by Yahoo's counsel K V Vishwanathan and advocate Anupam Lal Das, appearing for Microsoft, who contended that people's right to receive information could not be trampled by blocking all information on sex determination.

He said that the Centre has filed an affidavit in this regard before the court.

The direction had come after Solicitor General (SG) Ranjit Kumar had said that these search engines have agreed to follow the law on sex determination and would not allow advertisement or "publish any content" on the issue on their respective search engines.

The government had held a consultative meeting with the companies to reach a solution on Sex determination.

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The government was earlier directed by the Supreme Court to block almost 43 keywords related to the subject.

The bench, however, said anything that causes any kind of propagation of pre-natal sex determination is not allowed and the law can not be allowed to be violated in the name of right to receive information.

Pre-Conception and Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques (PCPNDT) Act, 1994 was enacted to stop female foeticides and arrest the declining sex proportion in India.