Women and Justice: Keywords

Domestic Case Law

Voluntary Health Association of Punjab v. Union of India Supreme Court of India (2013)

Gender discrimination

The Parliament of India enacted the Pre-Conception and Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques (Prohibition on Sex-Selection) Act of 1994 as a measure of preventing female feticides and as a form of affirmative action for women and girls to end discrimination against girl children in furtherance of the constitutional principle of equality under Article 15 of the Indian Constitution. The Supreme Court in 2001 and 2003 noticed a lack of effective implementation and misuse of the Act and thus had issued directions to the Union Government and the State Governments for its proper implementation. Having noticed a decline in the female child sex ratio as reported in the 2011 Census, the Court directed personal appearance of the Health Secretaries of the States of Punjab, Haryana, NCT Delhi, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Maharashtra, to examine steps undertaken for effective implementation of the provisions of the Act as well as the various directions issued by the Court. The Court emphasized that women have the equal right of thinking, participating and becoming leaders in the society, stating that the purpose of the Act can only be realized when government authorities carry out their functions with commitment to and awareness about the role of women in a society. After a detailed analysis of the steps undertaken by the Union and the State Governments, the Court issued directions—including regular monitoring and reporting by authorities under the Act, faster disposal of cases filed under the Act, and suspension of licenses to practice for convicted doctors—to ensure implementation.