Pinky Anand, Senior Advocate and former Additional Solicitor General, has once again come to the rescue of the unborn child. The Supreme Court of India issued notice to the Central Government on Tuesday regarding a public interest litigation filed by Advocates Shobha Gupta and Sanskriti Shankuntala Gupta under Article 32 of the Indian Constitution. Pinky Anand, while arguing the matter before the Chief Justice’s court, brought to the notice of the court the glaring defects in the implementation of the PCPNDT Act (The Pre-Conception & Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques: Prohibition of Sex Selection Act) . This act was enacted by the Govt. of India in 1994 to protect the unborn child by comprehensibly prohibiting pre- and post-natal sex determination by any doctor or genetic clinic.
Even though the Act came into force in 1996, it was not implemented properly. Therefore, a writ petition (CEHAT and Others v. Union of India & Ors., 2000) was filed before the Supreme Court of India seeking directions to the central and state governments to appoint the appropriate authorities for implementation of the provisions of the Act.
The Supreme Court decided the writ petition in 2003 and directed the central and state governments to implement the Act with full vigor and zeal. Despite the directions of the Supreme Court, the act was still not adequately implemented, which led to the filing of another writ petition (Voluntary Health Association of Punjab vs. Union of India & Ors, 2006). Subsequently, in this writ petition, the Indian Medical Association (IMA) also joined as the party praying for dilution of certain provisions of the act. The Supreme Court in 2016, after taking all facts into consideration, rejected the contention of IMA and issued directions to the Centre, States, and Union Territories to effectively implement the act. It also directed the various courts in this country, through the Registrars of various High Courts, to take steps to dispose of all pending cases filed under the PCPNDT Act within a period of six months. Despite this order of the Supreme Court, cases filed under the PCPNDT Act are still pending for years in various courts in the country.
In order to thwart the implementation of this piece of social legislation, the apex body of obstetricians and gynaecologists of the country, known as the Federation of Obstetrics and Gynaecological Societies of India (FOGSI), filed a writ petition in the Supreme Court ( FOGSI vs Union of India, 2017), challenging the constitutional validity of the core provisions of the act with the view to diluting the potency of the act.
The Federation hired a battery of legal luminaries, including Soli Sorabjee, to put forth their view. However, Pinky Anand, as Additional Solicitor General appearing on behalf of the Union of India, vehemently opposed the petitioner society’s submission and won the day by obtaining an order stating that dilution of the act’s provisions would not only defeat the act’s purpose of preventing female foeticide, but would relegate the right to life of the girl child to a mere formality.