The supreme Court of India on 16 February 2017 directed three search engines, namely Google, Yahoo and Microsoft, to set-up in-house expert bodies forthwith to delete materials that go against Indian laws that prohibit pre-natal sex determination.
The direction was passed by a bench of Justice Dipak Misra and Justice R Banumathi. The bench asked these cyber giants that in the case of any doubt, their in-house expert bodies can communicate with the nodal agency appointed by the Union Government for guidance and necessary action.
Expressing its concern over the declining sex ratio in India, the apex court in its observation said that the declining number of girl child was a “disastrous signal for mankind”.
However, the apex court also assured the Indian units of the multinational cyber giants that it would not initiate any contempt proceedings against them. It said that the idea was to make them responsive to the local laws and concerns.
Pulling these companies, the apex court said that they know how to make money but don’t have any respect for the Indian law.
While directing the three cyber giants, the court reiterated its 19 September 2016 direction and added that the respondents’ three to five (Google India Pvt Ltd, Microsoft Corporation (I) Pvt Ltd and Yahoo India) should appoint an in-house expert body.
This expert body will take steps to immediately delete the words or keywords on the internet that have the potential to go against Section 22 of the Pre-conception and Pre-natal Diagnostic Techniques (Prohibition of Sex Selection) Act (PCPNDT), 1994.
Section 22 of the PCPNDT Act 1994
The Section 22 of the PCPNDT Act 1994 prohibits advertisement relating to preconception and pre-natal determination of sex and punishment for contravention. Advertisement means any circular, notice, wrapper, label or any other document including advertisement through the internet or any other media in print or electronic form. It also includes any visible representation made by means of any hoarding, wall-painting, signal, light, sound, smoke or gas.
Section 22(3) says that any person who contravenes the provision of sub section (1) or (2) shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to three years and a fine that may extend to Rs 10000.