India in one of the few countries where there is a gender disparity due to the prevalence of female feticide in many communities.
The declining sex ratio in India is a matter of great concern and calls for concerted action from all quarters. In order to contain the menace of female feticide and ushering in a healthy sex ratio in the Country, the Central Government enacted the Pre-Conception & Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques Act, 1994. The Act, inter alia, provides for stringent action against individuals and genetic laboratories/ clinics offering sex determination services. Similar penalty provision also exists for those who seek such services.
Various mechanisms have been evolved at the national, State and district levels to ensure strict compliance of the provisions of the Act by all stakeholders through periodic inspection and monitoring.
This information was given by the Minister for Health & Family Welfare, Dr. Anbumani Ramadoss in a reply to a question in the Rajya Sabha
The advent of Internet e-communication has emerged as a new threat in this regard. It has been reported that some of the overseas agencies are freely posting advertisements pertaining to sex determination services and wares. For instance, websites like the www.GenSelect.com, www.4-gender-selection.com, www.pregnancystore.com
etc., are offering sex determination kits called the 'baby Gender Mentor Home DNA Test Kit', that help the buyer determine the sex of the foetus through DNA analysis at home.
The matter was referred to the Ministry of Communications & IT to block the offending websites. But, that Ministry expressed the view that such an action did not render the promoters of such sites completely ineffective as they could re-emerge and be available for the viewers again under a new nomenclature and in a new avatar.
To identify the people involved, the issue was then taken up with the Department of Revenue, Ministry of Finance, to trap the people importing the sex determination kits pandered by the offending overseas websites into the Country.
The Ministry of Health requested the Customs Department for details of the individuals or organizations who have imported the sex determination (Gender Testing) kits from abroad to facilitate the Government to proceed further against such people under Section 23 (3) of the PC & PNDT Act and also to intercept and not release such articles under Sub-Section (2) (k), (u) & (v) of Section 11 under Chapter IV of the Customs Act, 1962 (52 of 1962), vide the Government's letter dated 29.11.2007 and 5.1.2008.
In response to the Government's above request, the Customs Department have suitably alerted their field formations not to release the imported Gender Testing Kits and to take appropriate action under the Customs Act.