Legal Jurisdiction

Judiciary in India has declared the year 2007 as the ‘Awareness year of female foeticide’. “The system will deal strictly with those responsible for this crime”, Chief Justice of India Y K Sabharwal, declared.

(A) Evolution of the law

India has witnessed a long-drawn process, defining the evolution of an anti-female foeticide law. Here we highlight the most important milestones:

Key Stages
1976: The Centre banned sex-determination tests in government facilities.

1988: The Maharashtra Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques Act, followed by similar acts by the governments of Punjab, Gujarat and Haryana

1994: The Punjab Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques (Control & Regulation) Act

1994: The Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques (Regulation and Prevention of Misuse) Bill (introduced in Parliament in 1991, passed in 1994)

1996, January 1: Enforcement of central Act in Punjab

December 1997: The Directorate of Health Services and Family Welfare, Punjab is appointed the authority to implement the Act

Meanwhile, the IPC recognizes Female Infanticide as a punishable offence under the Indian law.

(B) Acts and Regulation

India has witnessed a long-drawn process, defining the evolution of an anti-female foeticide law. Here we highlight the most important milestones:

Key Stages

1976: The Centre banned sex-determination tests in government facilities.

1988: The Maharashtra Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques Act, followed by similar acts by the governments of Punjab, Gujarat and Haryana

1994: The Punjab Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques (Control & Regulation) Act

1994: The Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques (Regulation and Prevention of Misuse) Bill (introduced in Parliament in 1991, passed in 1994)

1996, January 1: Enforcement of central Act in Punjab

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Code of Medical Ethics

Constituted by the Indian Parliament in the Medical Council Act, 1956, the relevant section of the Code of Medical Ethics states:

On no account, sex determination test shall be undertaken with the intent to terminate the life of a female foetus developing in her mother’s womb, unless there are other absolute indications for termination of pregnancy as specified in the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act, 1971. Any act of termination of pregnancy of normal female foetus, amounting to female foeticide, shall be regarded as professional misconduct on the part of the physician leading to penal erasure besides rendering him liable to criminal proceedings as per the provisions of this Act (Clause 7.6). It is here important to note that the penalty for unindicated sex determination and female foeticide is striking off the name from the register apart from criminal action.