Supreme Court Censures Search Engines for Displaying Sex Determination Ads


The Supreme Court of India. Credit: PTI

New Delhi: On July 5, the Supreme Court pulled up online search engines including Google, Yahoo and Microsoft, for failing to check advertisements pertaining to pre-natal sex determination, saying they were patently violating Indian law.

A bench of Justice Dipak Misra and R. Banumathi said the court did not have the relevant expertise to explore ways to block such advertisements, and asked the Centre to convene a meeting of technical experts and relevant staff of the search engine companies within ten days, to do that. It also directed the Centre to allow the petitioner, Sabu Mathew George, to participate in the meeting.

“They are patently violating the Indian law and are saying that they cannot do anything. It is not acceptable and this needs to be controlled,” the bench said.

George filed the PIL seeking the court’s intervention, in view of a decreasing number of female children in the country.

During the hearing, solicitor general Ranjit Kumar said that companies were violating the Pre-Conception and Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques (PCPNDT) Act. The PCPNDT Act, 1994, was enacted to stop female foeticide and arrest the declining sex ratio in India. It banned pre-natal sex determination.

Advocate Sanjay Parikh, appearing for the petitioner, said that the earlier order of the court, that these websites shall not advertise or sponsor any advertisement violating the provisions of the PCPNDT Act, should be reflected on the homepage of each search engine, as a warning to users. He said if the order is reflected in the ‘policy page’ or the ‘terms and conditions of service page’, it would not serve the purpose.