No sex test advertisements, Supreme Court tells Google, Yahoo

Sex determination tests in India are illegal under the PNDT Act.

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Thursday asked internet search engines Google, Yahoo and Microsoft to set up an expert body within the company to monitor and remove sex-determination advertisements.

Sex determination tests in India are illegal under the PNDT Act (Pre-natal Diagnostic Techniques (Prohibition of Sex Selection) Act, 1994).

A bench of Justices Dipak Misra and R. Banumathi also appr-oved the nodal agency set up by the Centre that will guide the search engines to delete offensive advertisements and materials.

The bench passed this order on a writ petition filed in 2008 by one Sabu George. At the earlier hearing, Google and other search engines had assured that they would forthwith take all necessary steps to block and develop further requisite technique so that the moment any advertisement or search is introduced into the system, the results would not be projected or seen, in India, by resorting to “auto block” method. But since it was not being implemented, the court passed the present order.

The bench asked the search engines to respect the law of the land by having an in-house mechanism to curb these advertisements.

Quoting Unicef figures, it was submitted that foetal sex determination by ‘unethical’ medical professionals has grown into a '1,000-crore industry in India. Following the 2011 census, it was estimated that upto 8 million female foetuses had been aborted in the previous decade.

Apex court says no right is absolute
The Centre informed the court that the ministry of health and family welfare has set up a “nodal agency” to enforce the ban on commercial advertisements and all forms of information on Internet relating to “pre-natal sex determination” tests to find out whether the foetus is a boy or girl.

The bench rejected the arguments of Google, Yahoo and Microsoft that they were willing to block all commercial advertisements, it would be impossible to block knowledge which are not commercial in nature. It was also argued that such a curb will violate the right to free information, but court turned down the objection saying no right is absolute.

The bench said while knowledge, wisdom and information cannot be blocked there is no doubt that there has to be freedom for access to information, but such freedom cannot violate a law that holds the field. “You cannot have and should not have anything on website that carries any propaganda,” it added.

( Source : Deccan Chronicle. )
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