Set up mechanism to delete sex determination ads: SC
The Supreme Court ordered Internet giants, Google, Microsoft and Yahoo to immediately set up their own in-house expert bodies to keep a tab on and delete online pre-natal sex determination advertisements.
It assured the internet giants that it will not initiate contempt proceedings against them as the idea is to make search engines responsive to Indian law. The court pulled up these companies stating that they know how to make money but do not show respect for the Indian law.
The court warned that decrease in sex ratio is a disaster signal for mankind and there exist a scant regard for female foeticide laws in the country. It also expressed its concern over the declining sex ratio in the country.
Law to curb female foeticide:
- The Pre-Conception & Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques (PNDT) Act was enacted to curb female foeticide and arrest the declining gender ratio in India.
- The Pre-conception and Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques (Prohibition of Sex Selection) Act prohibits advertisements related to pre-natal determination of sex and imposes punishment. However, advertisements continue to appear online, rendering the law toothless.
- The Supreme Court has made the search engines themselves liable for preventing illegal sex determination advertisements from appearing online. The step is in addition to the move to set up a nodal agency by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, to receive complaints on violation of Section 22 of the PNDT Act.
Concerns over ways of blocking content:
Senior advocate representing Google India told the supreme court bench that they have already complied with the earlier orders passed by the court in the matter. Whenever the nodal agency informed them that any particular advertisement must be taken of it is withdrawn within 36 hours.
He even remarked that it is impossible to have a preventive blockage for such advertisements. The only possibility that exist is of curative blockage. However, the bench observed that if the search engines did not withdraw such advertisements even after being informed by the nodal agency, this would amount to violation of Section 22 of the PNDT act. In fact, the system should automatically block such advertisements on the internet.
Establishing an In-house body of experts:
The court ordered that the search engines should appoint an In-House Expert Body. This body would take steps, based on its own understanding, to delete words shown on the Internet which violates the letter and spirit of the language of Section 22 of the PNDT Act.
In case of doubt related to interpretation they are free to approach the Ministry’s nodal agency for clarifications. The court also asked the Union government to spread awareness about this recently set up nodal agency and the concerned mechanism that to deal with complaints regarding hosting of sex-determination material on the internet.