The Supreme Court Thursday pulled up the Centre for showing helplessness in blocking sites advertising pre-natal sex determination kits, sale of which is illegal in India.
Referring to an old affidavit filed by the government, saying it wasn’t possible to act against the websites as they were hosted outside the country, a bench of Justices Dipak Misra and UU Lalit said: “As we understand from the affidavit, it reflects a kind of helplessness by the said deponent (Centre)….we do not appreciate the manner in which the stand has been expressed.”
The court said search engines such as Google India, Yahoo India and Microsoft Corporation (I) Pvt Ltd must ensure that they do not show contents in violation of the Indian law that bans sex determination of a foetus.
The SC had last week expressed concern over the declining girl-child sex ratio in Haryana, Delhi and Uttar Pradesh. The court has sought a response from all States on whether they “individual incentives” could be extended to the families to save the girl child. As per the 2011 census figures the sex ratio is 940 females to 1000 males. According to the latest NCRB data female foeticide has gone up by 59.1 per cent from 132 in 2011 to 210 in 2012.
“In our considered opinion, an effort has to be made to see that nothing contrary to laws of this country is advertised or shown on these websites,” the bench noted when the petitioner’s lawyer Sanjay Parikh said other countries had controlled such advertisement that violated laws of their countries. Parikh informed the court that the government can enter into an agreement, develop technical tools and issue appropriate directions to the websites.
The court asked solicitor general Ranjit Kumar to be present in the court on December 15 for assisting it on the issue. It also sought a response from the Information and Technology department on how the sites can be regulated.
Counsel for the search engines denied violating the law and said the websites were merely providing a corridor.