New Delhi:The Narendra Modi government’s ambitious Beti Bachao Beti Padhao programme notwithstanding, Indians continue to show a distinct preference for the male child.

Maharashtra, followed by Delhi and Haryana are the biggest culprits, topping the list in complaints for illegal sex selection clinics under Pre-Conception and Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques (PC & PNDT) (Prohibition of Sex Selection) Act, 1994 and Rules.

According to the latest Quarterly Progress Reports (QPRs) submitted by States and Union Territories to the union health ministry, till March 2017, authorities filed 2,371 complaints for various violations before criminal courts.

Of these, 294 complaints were for non-registration of diagnostic clinics. Out of these 294, Maharashtra alone accounted 74—the highest. The national capital is not behind in the illegal practise with 54 complaints, while Haryana—notorious for female foeticide—recorded 41. Bihar and Punjab recorded 31 and 25 complaints respectively.

“At least 103 court cases were filed during 2014-15, 190 during 2015-16 and 133 cases were filed in 2016-17. In last three years, about 1,132 cases had been decided under the PC&PNDT Act resulting in 416 convictions and 114 suspension or cancellation of medical licences of the convicted doctors," health minister J. P. Nadda told the Lok Sabha recently.

“The government is in conformity with the order of the Supreme Court and has directed all the states and union territories to take necessary action in compliance with the directions of the Supreme Court to stop illegal pre-natal sex determination test in the country," he said.

According to the ministry, India’s declining sex ratio has emerged as a persistent challenge impeding efforts to stabilise population growth.

India has a child sex ratio (0-6 years) of 919 females per 1,000 males and it is worse in urban areas (905 females) than rural areas (923).

Eleven states have a child sex ratio that is worse than the national average: Haryana (834), Punjab (846), Jammu & Kashmir (862), Delhi (871), Maharashtra (894), Rajasthan (888), Gujarat (890), Uttarakhand (890), Uttar Pradesh (902), Himachal Pradesh (909) and Madhya Pradesh (918).

The PC & PNDT Act, 1994 has rules aimed at preventing the misuse of pre-natal diagnostic techniques for sex determination leading to female foeticide. The government has also constituted a National Inspection and Monitoring Committee to oversee the implementation of the Act at the ground level.

States and union territories have also constituted their own committees (SIMCs) for the monitoring of the PC&PNDT Act.

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