Tribune News Service
Chandigarh, June 3
Taking cognisance of the 15-year delay by Punjab in constituting a multi-member ‘Appropriate Authority’ for the implementation of Act against sex determination, the Punjab and Haryana High Court has placed its “top officers” in the dock.
It has asked the state to place on record the names of the “highest officers” responsible for the delay from September 2003 till May this year.
The direction by the Bench of Justice AB Chaudhari and Justice BS Walia came on a petition filed by
Dr Zoni Jain and another petitioner against the state and other respondents.
They had challenged the prosecution filed against them before a Judicial Magistrate in Ludhiana under the Pre-Conception and Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques (Prohibition of Sex Selection) Act, 1994.
The Bench observed that the PNDT Act was brought into force from September 1994, but one of the key provisions was amended with effect from February 14, 2003. It said, among the other things, the state government would appoint one or more appropriate authorities for the whole, or part of the state, for “the purposes of this Act having regard to the intensity of the problem of pre-natal sex determination leading to female foeticide”.
The Bench added a duty, as such, was cast on the state to constitute a multi-member ‘Appropriate Authority’ within three months of the implementation of the Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques (Regulation and Prevention of Misuse) Amendment Act, 2002. The Bench added that the mandate was crystal clear. “As a matter of fact, there could be no scope to interpret that there could be only one member ‘Appropriate Authority’ namely Civil Surgeon…,” the Bench added.
Referring to the case of “Help Welfare Group Society versus State of Haryana and others”, the Bench ruled that the High Court in the matter held that the ‘Appropriate Authority’ would be multi-member, and not single-member. The Bench added that the judgment was delivered on September 18, 2013. As such, the state was bound to create a multi-member authority within three months from February 14, 2003.
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