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SC sets up panel to query half-baked gov stats on female infanticide

Expressing its misgivings about the authenticity of the figures of the child sex ratio given to it by various state governments, the Supreme Court yesterday set up a committee to verify the record on the basis of which these figures were arrived at. (Download the order)

The apex court bench of Justice Dipak Misra and Justice Uday Umesh Lalit said they had “grave doubts” over the correctness of the figures while setting up the panel which will also have two senior lawyers - Colin Gonsalves and Sanjay Parekh - on it.

Setting up the panel whose meeting will be held under the National Inspection and Monitoring Committee, the court said: “The purpose is to find out whether there is degradation of the sex ratio or a stagnation or any steps have really been taken by the concerned states to improve/enhance the sex ratio or not?”

The court order came in the course of the hearing of a petition by NGO Voluntary Health Association of Punjab seeking to curb sex determination clinics all over the country and the prosecution of those carrying it out illegally. The petitioner has sought the court’s intervention to check and reverse the alarming gulf in the male and girl child ratio.

“In our considered opinion, there should be a verification of the documents that form the basis on which these figures have been arrived at. Let it be clarified that the figures that have been put forth do not show any indication of improvement but we would like to have it verified to satisfy ourselves whether the figure that has been put forth is correct or not,” said Justice Misra expressing apprehensions over the statistics supplied by the various state governments.

The court directed that the meeting of the committee would be attended by an additional secretary, and two other joint secretaries of the health and family welfare ministry and the officers who had filed the affidavits on behalf of Uttar Pradesh, Haryana and Delhi. The meeting would be held Dec 3 and a report submitted by Dec 10, as it directed the next hearing of the matter on Dec 11.

The states shall, the court said, produce the relevant registers/records before the committee.

“We are sure, the states should be in a position to produce the registers/record in the meeting so that it can be scrutinized. Any discrepancy in this respect shall not be appreciated for the states must have prepared the chart on the basis of the registers/records,” the court said.

The court also sought suggestions from the state governments as to what steps could be taken to improve girl child sex ratio.

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