Pre-Conception And Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques Act, 1994

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The main reason this act was enacted by Parliament was to stop prevalent female feticides and prenatal sex determination. The preamble of this Act at the onset prohibits determination of sex before or after conception, it regulates prenatal diagnostic techniques for the purposes of detecting genetic abnormalities, metabolic disorders, chromosomal abnormalities, congenital malformations, sex-linked disorders and for the prevention of their misuse for sex determination leading to female feticides. The Act has jurisdiction over the whole of India except the state of Jammu and Kashmir. The Act was enacted in the year 1994 and was amended in the year 2003.

Chapter two of the Act makes it mandatory for Genetic Counselling Centre, Genetic Laboratory or Genetic Clinic to register and only registered centres are permitted to perform activities relating to prenatal diagnostic techniques. The person employed at such centres should possess the desired qualification prescribed by law. There is a blanket ban on tests conducted for sex selection on a woman or a man, on any tissue, embryo, fluid and gametes derived from either or both of them. Sale of ultrasound machines or any scanning equipment having the capacity to detect sex to unregistered persons is also banned.

Chapter three of Act allows pre-natal diagnostic techniques to be conducted only for following abnormalities- (i) chromosomal abnormalities (ii) genetic metabolic diseases (iii) haemoglobinopathies (iv) sex-linked genetic diseases (v) congenital anomalies (vi) Other diseases specified by Board

The Act makes it clear no pre-natal diagnostic techniques shall be conducted unless the qualified person is satisfied and gives the same thing in writing. For such tests, either of the following conditions has to be fulfilled

(i) age of the pregnant woman should be above thirty-five years;

(ii) the pregnant woman has undergone two or more abortions;

(iii) the pregnant woman had been exposed to teratogenic agents such as drugs, radiation, infection or chemicals;

(iv) family history of mental retardation or physical deformities such as spasticity or any other genetic disease;

Chapter 4 provides for constitution of Central Supervisory Board to advise the Central Government on policy matters relating to use of pre-natal diagnostic techniques, sex selection techniques and their misuse; to ensure implementation of the Act and create public awareness about said issue.

Chapter 7 provides offences and penalties,

Offences under this act include conducting of prenatal diagnostic technique or helping others in conducting the said test in the unregistered units, sex selection on a man or woman. PND test is to be only conducted for the purposes for the mentioned in the Act, any contravention is punishable. The Act makes the sale, distribution, supply, renting etc. of an ultrasound machine or any other equipment having the capacity to detect the sex of the foetus.

Any person who puts an advertisement for pre-natal and pre-conception sex determination facilities in the form of a notice, circular, label, wrapper or any document, or advertises through the interior or other media can be imprisoned for up to three years and fined Rs. 10,000.

It also prohibits to communicate the sex of the foetus to the pregnant woman or her relatives by words, signs or any other method.

Even though the Act has been in place since quite a long time but its implementation is not effective which is evident from declining sex ratio in the country. To put a check on the declining child sex ratio, the government has taken various initiatives like Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao Yojana, Sukanya Samriddhi Yojana, etc.