“At this juncture, without expressing any opinion, we would require the states to give suggestions by a separate affidavit, if some incentives can be given to the family who show respect and honour for the girl child and give birth to girl child so that the sex ratio is improved,” a bench of Justices Dipak Misra and U.U. Lalit said.
The court also directed that the additional secretary and two joint secretaries in the health and family welfare ministry meet to examine the claims of Uttar Pradesh, Delhi and Haryana that the sex ratio in these states had declined over the years.
The bench wasn’t satisfied with data furnished by these states. Haryana, for instance, had submitted different figures claiming that most districts had recorded a decline in the ratio.
Among the districts that have a skewed ratio, according to figures till June 2014, are Mohindergarh (770 females for every 1,000 males), Rewari (806), Jhajjar (811) and Bhiwani (832).
The Uttar Pradesh government’s affidavit said the state’s overall child sex ratio was 919. But in some districts, such as Agra, Mathura, Firozabad and Aligarh, the figure hovered around 800-850 females per 1,000 males.
The Delhi government had claimed a marginal improvement in the ratio. According to last year’s figures, the ratio was 895 females for every 1,000 males.
The bench was dealing with a PIL filed by the NGO Voluntary Health Association, which complained that female foeticide was continuing across the country despite repeated directions by the court to strictly enforce the Pre-Conception and Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques (Prohibition of Sex Selection) Act, 1994.
The Association, through senior counsel Colin Gonzalves, had complained that no proper action was being taken against offenders.
Violators can be jailed for up to three years under the 1994 law that Parliament had enacted to address India’s declining sex ratio as a result of rampant abortion of female foetuses.
The court expressed anguish that despite an order on September 16, many states had not filed affidavits explaining measures they had taken to curb female foeticide.
“In pursuance of our earlier order, affidavits by certain states have been filed and certain states, by adopting a lackadaisical attitude, have not filed the affidavits…. This attitude is not appreciated,” the bench said, directing the states to file affidavits within two weeks before the next hearing on December 11.
“We recapitulate the saying, ‘Awake, arise, Oh! Parth’,” the bench added, invoking Vedic verses to prod the states to “wake up” to the problem of female foeticide.