Govt Suspends ‘Certain Rules’ Under Act Banning Sex Determination
Suspension of the provisions could be misused for conducting illegal sex determination tests, said Brinda Karat.
In a gazette notification dated 4 April, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare suspended certain rules of the Pre-Conception and Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques Act, 1994 and said that it was done due to the "unprecedented situation created by COVID-19" and will remain valid till 30 June.
The CPI(M) politbureau member Brinda Karat has raised concerns over the suspension of the provisions, saying they can be misused to conduct illegal sex determination tests freely.
In a letter to Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan, Karat said genetic counselling centres, genetic laboratories, genetic and ultrasound clinics and imaging centres, which are covered under the Act are considered essential services and will continue to operate despite the lockdown.
It stands to reason that if the clinic is open and conducting tests, it is duty-bound to keep a record of such tests as mandated by the PCPNDT law and thus, suspending a rule that mandates that they keep records of such tests could lead to illegal procedures being conducted, she said.
"If the government had assessed that for the month of March it would not be possible for clinics conducting tests to send the reports by 5 April, and had issued an administrative order condoning the delay it would be understandable," she said.
“However, suspending the rule itself means that the clinic need not produce any records till 30 June. This could be misused by unscrupulous sections to conduct sex determination tests freely.”
The other two rules which have been suspended pertain to registration of the clinic and registration and meetings of the advisory council and other authorities.
"You will appreciate my concern that the suspension of the rule may lead to sabotage of the law under the guise of the situation created by COVID-19," she said in the letter urging the minister to look into the suspension of Clause 9(8) in the rules of the Act which mandates that the organisation should keep records of all tests and procedures conducted by it.
‘Why Urgent Suspension?’
Karat asked when all meetings of professional bodies are being held through the use of technology, why should the authorities under the PCPNDT Act come in for special consideration to exempt such meetings?
"There was no urgent reason to suspend the rules. No other rules under any other act have been so suspended. It is questionable whether the ministry has the powers to arbitrarily suspend rules placed before parliament," she said, demanding the withdrawal of the suspension of rules.
(With inputs from PTI)
Subscribe To Our Daily Newsletter And Get News Delivered Straight To Your Inbox.