The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW) on Thursday said that it has not suspended the PC & PNDT (Pre Conception and Pre Natal Diagnostic Techniques (Prohibition of Sex Selection) Act 1994, which prohibits prenatal sex determination but has only relaxed some rules related to submission of reports due to the Coronavirus lockdown.
"A section of the media is speculating that the PC&PNDT has been suspended by MoHFW. It is clarified that MoHFW has not suspended the PC & PNDT Act, which prohibits sex selection before or after conception," an official statement reads.
"In view of the ongoing lockdown, due to COVID19 pandemic, the Health Ministry has issued a Notification on April 4, to defer/suspend certain provisions under the PC&PNDT Rules 1996. These Rules pertain to applying for renewal of registration if falling due in this period, submission of reports by diagnostics centres by 5th day of the following month and submission of quarterly progress report (QPR) by the States/UTs," the statement added.
It is reiterated that each Ultrasound clinic, Genetic Counselling Centre, Genetic Laboratory, Genetic Clinic and Imaging Centre would have to maintain all the mandatory records on day to day basis, as prescribed under the Law. "It is only the submission deadlines to respective Appropriate Authorities which have been extended till June 30, 2020. There is no exemption (to the diagnostic centres) from compliance to the provisions of the PC & PNDT Act," the ministry said.
All records are mandatory and have to be maintained according to rules and the notification in no way impacts the requirement of stringent implementation of the PC & PNDT (Pre Conception and Pre Natal Diagnostic Techniques (Prohibition of Sex Selection) Act and Rules, the ministry stated.
The Act was made to address the problem of female foeticide in the country due to the preference for a male child in some sections of society. The Act, therefore, imposed an absolute prohibition on sex determination tests and mandated that prenatal testing techniques could be used only for specific purposes such as determination of genetic abnormalities.
(With agency inputs)