Set up mechanism to delete sex determination ads: SC


 

A file photo of women taking a pledge against prenatal sex determination test in Ahmedabad.

‘Order to Internet giants is to make search engines responsive to Indian law

The Supreme Court on Thursday ordered three Internet giants — Google, Microsoft and Yahoo — to immediately set up their own in-house expert bodies to keep tabs on and delete online pre-natal sex determination advertisements.

The court said the intent of the order was to make these search engines “responsive to Indian law.”

Section 22 of the Pre-conception and Pre-natal Diagnostic Techniques (Prohibition of Sex Selection) Act of 1994 prohibits advertisements relating to pre-natal determination of sex and imposes punishment. However, ads continue to appear online, rendering the law toothless.

“Since 2001, this court has expressed its concern with regard to reduction of sex ratio in this country. It has gone to the extent of stating that when there is decrease in sex ratio, it is a disaster signal to the mankind,” a Bench of Justices Dipak Misra and R. Banumathi referred to the scant regard for the anti-female foeticide law.

Now, the Supreme Court has made the search engines themselves liable for preventing illegal sex determination ads from appearing online. This step is in addition to the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare’s move to set up a nodal agency to receive complaints on violation of Section 22 of the 1994 Act.

In-house experts

The court ordered that the search engines “shall appoint their ‘In-House Expert Body’ which shall take steps to see that if any words or any key words that can be shown on the Internet which has the potentiality to go counter to Section 22 of the 1994 Act, should be deleted forthwith.”

The court observed that the in-house expert body “shall on its own understanding” delete anything that violates the letter and spirit of language of Section 22 of the 1994 Act. In case of doubt, they are free to approach the Ministry’s nodal agency and be guided by the latter.

“The whole problem is that they [search engines] do not have respect for the law of the country,” Justice Misra orally remarked. However, the companies countered the accusation, saying they had always complied with the local laws.

The hindu

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