Wednesday, March 22, 2006

What the ex-Chief Justice of India feels about the PNDT Act

I just read an eye-opening interview with the ex-Chief Justice of India, Justice Lahoti, in the Times of India ( 21 March, 2006, ‘A judgment can’t be a solution to all the problems’.

" In October 2004, a Supreme Court bench headed by Justice R C Lahoti upheld a Haryana government law prohibiting a person from contesting panchayat elections in the state if he/she had more than two children. There is now rethink about the effectiveness of the legislation.

Do you regret the judgment upholding the two-child norm?
No. It was in national interest.
But your own state of Madhya Pradesh is planning to reverse the two-child norm.
There are political considerations. Population control is needed in national interest.
But studies show that the two-child norm has led to an increase in female foeticide.
Activists have a one-track mind. I feel that anomalies in law can be corrected with amendments. Give tax benefits to fathers who have girl children. And if there is female foeticide, then amend the law so that only the male child is counted when enforcing the two-child norm. Don’t count the girls.
While female foeticide is on the rise, the PNDT Act has been flouted in all states and no one is being prosecuted.
What is this Act?
The law to stop sex determination in ultrasound clinics. It has come from the same apex court which upheld the two-child norm.
Solution in this case does not lie in enforcing the law but in educating the people. The PNDT Act is a shortterm solution. Ten years after the Act, there has been no further thinking on it. Can a law end crime? We need other solutions as well."

Hmm - interesting ! The TOI feels that the law which recommended a two-child norm needs to be reversed for two reasons . Because:
1. it is not effective;
2. it is coercive.

I agree with Justice Lahoti ! As he puts it - " The solution in this case does not lie in enforcing the law but in educating the people." Well-said ! Instead of wasting precious resources in trying to convict hapless doctors and painting them as villains , these could be much better utilised in promoting gender equality and offering better opportunities to girls, so that there is no longer any economic benefit to having a boy in India !

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