- Pre-Conception and Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques (PCPNDT) Act, 1994 is an Act of the Parliament of India enacted to stop female foeticides and arrest the declining sex ratio in India.
- The act banned prenatal sex determination.
CIRCUMSTANCES WHICH COMPELLED ENACTMENT
- In the early 1990s ultrasound techniques gained widespread use in India . Foetal sex determination and sex selective abortion became rampant.
- There was a tendency for families to continuously produce children until a male child was born. Social discrimination against women and a preference for sons have promoted female foeticide in various forms skewing the sex ratio of the country towards men.
- According to the decennial Indian census, the sex ratio in the 0-6 age group in India went from 104.0 males per 100 females in 1981, to 105.8 in 1991, to 107.8 in 2001, to 109.4 in 2011. The ratio is significantly higher in certain states such as Punjab and Haryana .
PURPOSE OF THE ACT
The main purpose of enacting the act is to ban the use of sex selection techniques after conception and prevent the misuse of prenatal diagnostic technique for sex selective abortion.
IMPORTANT FEATURES OF THE ACT
Offences under this act include conducting or helping in the conduct of prenatal diagnostic technique in the unregistered units, sex selection on a man or woman, conducting PND test for any purpose other than the one mentioned in the act, sale, distribution, supply, renting etc. of any ultra sound machine or any other equipment capable of detecting sex of the foetus. Main provisions in the act are-
- The Act provides for the prohibition of sex selection, before or after conception.
- It regulates the use of pre-natal diagnostic techniques, like ultrasound and amniocentesis by allowing them their use only to detect :
certain congenital malformations
sex linked disorders.
- No laboratory or centre or clinic will conduct any test including ultrasonography for the purpose of determining the sex of the foetus.
- No person, including the one who is conducting the procedure as per the law, will communicate the sex of the foetus to the pregnant woman or her relatives by words, signs or any other method.
- Any person who puts an advertisement for pre-natal and pre-conception sex determination facilities in the form of a notice, circular, label, wrapper or any document, or advertises through interior or other media in electronic or print form or engages in any visible representation made by means of hoarding, wall painting, signal, light, sound, smoke or gas, can be imprisoned for up to three years and fined Rs. 10,000.Any subsequent conviction entails upto 5 years imprisonment and upto Rs.50,000 fine.
- The Act mandates compulsory registration of all diagnostic laboratories, all genetic counselling centres, genetic laboratories, genetic clinics and ultrasound clinics.
Amendment in 2003
Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques (Regulation and Prevention of Misuse) Act, 1994 (PNDT), was amended in 2003 to The Pre-Conception and Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques (Prohibition Of Sex Selection) Act (PCPNDT Act) to improve the regulation of the technology used in sex selection.
Amendment of the act mainly covered bringing the technique of pre conception sex selection within the ambit of the act.
Bringing ultrasound within its ambit.
Empowering the central supervisory board, constitution of state level supervisory board.
Provision for more stringent punishments.
Empowering appropriate authorities with the power of civil court for search, seizure and sealing the machines and equipments of the violators.
Regulating the sale of the ultrasound machines only to registered bodies.
WHEN WILL THE COURT TAKE COGNIZANCE OF OFFENCES?
According to Section 28 Court will take cognizance of offences on a complaint made by—(a) the Appropriate Authority or any officer authorised in this behalf by the Central Government or State Government or(b) a person who has given not less than 15 days notice to the Appropriate Authority of the alleged offence and his intention to make a complaint to the court.
WHICH COURT CAN TRY THESE OFFENCES ?
Metropolitan Magistrate or 1st class Judicial Magistrate will try any offence punishable under this law . According to Section 27 every offence is cognizable,non-bailable and non-compoundable.