April 23, 2020
Dr. Harsh Vardhan
Hon'ble Union Minister
Ministry of Health and Family Welfare
Government of India
Nirman Bhawan, New Delhi-110011
We, the citizens of India, are shocked by the sudden and inexplicable suspension of Rule 8, Rule 9(8) and Rule 18A (6) of the PCPNDT (Prohibition of Sex Selection) Rules, 1996 vide an official gazette notification dated April 4, 2020.
This is putting the lives of thousands of unborn girls at risk every day. During the period of this suspension, there will be a rampant occurrence of sex-selective abortions.
While we are extremely respectful of the relentless efforts of the medical fraternity in saving the lives of patients suffering from COVID-19, we firmly believe that there can be no let-up in the efforts to save the lives of unborn girls.
In the past, your ministry has bemoaned the laxity in the implementation of the PCPNDT Act and Rules. Undoubtedly, the fight to end the selective killing of thousands of unborn girls every day demands the consistent and strict enforcement of the law.
If the government has formed an opinion that the temporary challenges caused due to the pandemic and the lockdown make it difficult to enforce compliance of rules, it should prescribe online mechanisms to apply for renewal of registrations and for submission of reports. Furthermore, the government could pass necessary orders to condone unavoidable delays caused due to extenuating circumstances. Why was the extreme step of suspending the rules chosen instead? The government’s clarification issued on April 9, 2020 is also unsatisfactory.
Moreover, though Section 32 of the PCPNDT Act gives the Government of India power to make rules under the Act, which are then to be laid before the Houses of Parliament for concurrence, it makes no provision for the unilateral suspension of rules made under the Act.
The arbitrary suspension of rules up to June 30, 2020 sets a bad precedent, is unjustified, puts the lives of unborn girls at risk, and must therefore be immediately reversed.
Citizens committed to save our Vanishing Girls