The Supreme Court ordered search engines Google, Yahoo and Microsoft’s Bing to immediately stop displaying advertisements relating to pre-natal sex determination tests.
It also directed the Union government to constitute a nodal agency to monitor and trigger search engines to crack down on online pre-natal sex determination advertisements.
What is the case?
The apex court was hearing a petition filed by Dr. Sabu Mathew George in 2008 in the background of increasing instances of female foeticide. The petition had contended that pre-natal sex determination tests continue with impunity despite being made illegal in 1994. It also had highlighted that search engines violated Indian laws by displaying prenatal sex determination advertisements.
What was SC’s order?
- The nodal agency should receive complaints about illegal online advertisements under the Pre-Conception and Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques (PCPNDT) Act, 1994.
- It should communicate the tip-offs to online search engines which would delete these advertisements within 36 hours of getting the information.
- This interim arrangement will continue till it took a final decision on the continued existence of online sex selection ads.
In the previous order, the SC had concluded that it was the liability of these search engines to check for pre-natal sex determination advertisements and develop in-house methods to prohibit such content. As follow up to this order, the search engines had developed a technique called “auto block” which prohibited advertisements on sex determination.
About PCPNDT Act, 1994
The PCPNDT Act, 1994 prohibits pre-natal sex determination in the country. The law was brought in to stop female foeticide and arrest the declining sex ratio in India. Under this Act, gender determination and gender selection is prohibited. Under it, anyone who abets such an act, either by helping in removing a foetus or by giving such information about a foetus is liable to be punished.