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.

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.

The Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques (Regulation and Prevention of Misuse) Act, 1994.

The Pre-natal Diagnostic Techniques (Regulation and Prevention of Misuse) Act, 1994 was enacted and brought into operation from January 1, 1996. Primarily, the Act prohibits determination and disclosure of the sex of foetus.

Key Definition:

An Act to provide for the regulation of the use of pre-natal diagnostic techniques for the purpose of detecting genetic or metabolic disorders or chromosomal abnormalities or certain congenital malformations or sex linked disorders and for the prevention of the misuse of such techniques for the purpose of pre-natal sex determination leading to female foeticide; and, for matters connected there with or incidental thereto

[20th September, 1994: Act No. 57 of 1994]
The Pre-Conception and Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques (Prohibition of Sex Selection) Act, 1994

The Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques Act was amended in 2003 to empower the above further in light of the new fertility technologies, which facilitate the selection of the sex of the foetus before conception.

The Pre-Conception and Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques (Prohibition of Sex Selection) Act and Rules 1994 (as amended up to 2002) (the PCPNDT Act) mandates that sex selection by any person, by any means, before or after conception, is prohibited.
Key Highlights:
The law chiefly provides for the following:
Violations carry a five-year jail term and a fine of about 2,300 U.S. dollars.

The Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act, 1971

An Act to provide for the termination of certain pregnancies by registered Medical Practitioners and for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto.

[Act No. 34 of 1971, 10th August 1971]
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.