Wednesday 16 November 2016

Supreme Court directs search engines to take down sex determination info

After delivering a judgment on guidelines for pre-natal sex determination last week, the Supreme Court today expressed its concern on the falling sex ratio in the country. The observations were made by a Bench of Justices Dipak Misra and Amitava Roy in a PIL filed by Sabu Matthew George, against the usage of search engines to access results for sex selection. The Bench went so far as to tell the companies, “In a country like
India, sex ratio is falling sharply. Whether you make money or not, we are not concerned.” Counsels for the respondents, including Senior Advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi had contended that the access of information should be unfettered, especially since there were various other ways in which these particular terms could be searched. They also advanced the argument that the term “advertisement” be considered in its commercial sense.

The petitioners, on the other hand, refuted the arguments by explaining that using search engines to search for innovative terms relating to sex determination was blatantly unfair.

Additional Solicitor General PS Narasimha appeared for the Centre, while advocate Sanjay Parikh appeared for the petitioner.

The Bench was also accosted with the suggestion that until a test for the issue, was laid down, the problem could not be resolved.

The Bench also directed the Centre to constitute a nodal agency to deal with complaints regarding searching of prohibited terms. The Nodal Agency has been tasked with informing the search engines of the complaints, whereupon the search engines have to take down the same within 36 hours.

The order is in the nature of an interim order till February 17, which is when the matter is next posted.

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