The PCPNDT Act of 1994 is the Parliament Act of India that aims to put an end to female feticides and stop the decline in the sex ratio. The Act prohibits prenatal sex determination.
In the 90s, Ultrasound techniques became very popular in India. In our country, there has been a tendency to have children until the birth of a male child but now it has changed due to the awareness created by various Government, NGOs, and Social groups.
The misuse of ultrasound to determine prenatal sex has led to a thriving industry worth billions of people. The technique has also increased social discrimination against women.
The result has been a decrease in the Child Sex Ratio. In 2011, the proportion of children in India was 919. It was just 927 in 2001, around 945 in 1991, and 962 in 1981.
In the advanced societies of the world, there is a proportion of Child Sex Ratio. However, in India, it has declined rapidly and could cause a demographic nightmare and social tensions.
The PCPNDT Act of 1994
The Pre Conception and Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques (PCPNDT) Act of 1994 were enacted to end the declining sex ration. This is a topic of discussion now because a ration of 914 of the lowest male children of all time has been reported in 2011, interim census report.
The main purpose of the enactment of the Act is to prohibit the use of sex selection techniques before or after conception and to prevent the misuse of a prenatal diagnostic technique for gender-specific absorption.
Offenses under this act include driving or assisting in the performance of prenatal diagnosis techniques in unregistered units, sex selection of a man or woman. An ultrasound machine or other equipment capable of detecting the sex of the fetus.
In addition to the enactment of the Law on Pre-conception and Prenatal Diagnostic Techniques (Prohibition of Sex Selection), the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare has adopted multiple strategies of programs and promotions to create a positive environment for the girl child through gender-sensitive policies, provisions, and laws.
This Act was amended in 2003, to improve the regulation of the technology used for sex selection.
Also, read: Five Year Plan in India
Implications of the 1994 Amendment to the PCPNDT Act.
- The amendment to the Act mainly referred to the implementation of the Sex selection technique before conception, in the context of the act.
- Setting up some bound for using Ultrasound.
- Strengthening the power of the central supervisory board, constitution of the supervisory board at the state level.
- Provision for more severe penalties.
- Empowering the authorities with the power of civil court for search, seizure and sealing the machinery and equipment of criminals.
- Regulating the sale of ultrasound scanner machines only to registered organizations.
Critical Assessment of PCPNDT Act
The Act contains the relevant provisions to end the determination of sex, but the problem is that it is not implemented effectively. This follows from the low rate of conviction of offenders.
According to the written response of the former health minister of the Union, Ghulam Nabi Azad, to the Rajya Sabha in 2013, only 143 people have been suspended for sex determination tests and only 65 doctors have suspended in the entire country under the PCPNDT Act of 1996.
If the law had been implemented effectively, the sex ratio should have been improved, but on the contrary, it has reached its lowest level according to the 2011 census data. This clearly shows the deficiencies in the implementation of the PCPNDT Act.
a) Inspections made by the National Inspection and Monitoring Committee (NIMC) have been scaled up to the next level and various committees were formed to take care.
b) Government has Setup several Rules, Regulations, Training, and Code of Conduct for authorities for testing.
c) The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare provides financial support to strengthen the implementation structures under the National Health Mission (NHM) for the establishment of cells dedicated to the PNDT, the strengthening of capacities, advocacy campaigns, etc.
d) The Government brought various programs and policies to create awareness among people, what is right and what is wrong under the framework of the law.