The Indian Supreme Court on Monday issued notice to the federal government on an application from a nonprofit for blocking access to a US-based website promoting sale of gender identification kits in India.
According to a petition filed by the Voluntary Health Association of Punjab, the website is offering a product called 'baby gender mentor kit' that determines the foetus' gender after a test of the pregnant mother's blood.
The website is quoted as saying, †"The test seeks to identify the presence of male or female foetal genetic materials in the mother's blood. If only male foetus-derived genetic materials are present in the mother's blood, it is likely the mother is carrying one or more baby boys. If only female foetus-derived genetic materials are present, it is likely the mother is carrying one or more baby girls... By submitting a blood sample, you authorise [the promoter] to test your blood sample for the presence of certain DNA and RNA markers that identify the gender of a foetus....Your personal information will never be disclosed."
The determination of foetus' gender is banned in India under the Pre-Conception and Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques (Prohibition of Sex Selection) Act, 1994, a law amended and made sterner in 2003 following the apex court's directions.
Counsel Jyothi Mendiratta, appearing for the petitioner in January, had sought the court's direction through the government to all courier companies of the country against delivering the offending medical kit in India.
Explaining the problem in directly blocking the particular offending website, the counsel told the court: "The source of this particular website is worldwide web and is directly accessible to the entire country.
"Therefore, a blanket blocking of the website is essential to prevent the misuse of the technology and violation of the law," said Mendiratta.
However, a Bench consisting of Chief Justice K.G. Balakrishnan and Justices L.S. Panta and P. Sathasivam, declined to grant interim relief on the petition.