New Delhi, September 20: In order ensure that female infanticide is not allowed to take place, Supreme Court on Monday directed search engines of companies, like Google India, Microsoft India and Yahoo India, to take steps to block sex determination advertisements.The order was passed on a petition from Dr. Sabu Mathew George, a gender rights activist.
A bench of justices Dipak Misra and C. Nagappan said, “In our considered opinion, they are under obligation to see that the ‘doctrine of auto block’ is applied within a reasonable period of time. It is difficult to accept the submission that once it is brought to their notice, they will do the needful. It need not be over emphasised that it has to be an in-house procedure/method to be introduced by the companies, and we do direct.”
The bench rejected the arguments made on behalf of the websites. Also the “principle of auto block” shall be immediately applied, and it shall not be shown was directed by them. They submitted that they can only do this when it is brought to their notice.
Sanjay Parikh, Counsel for the petitioner, opposed the submissions on behalf of the search engines and intermediaries and said expansive interpretation had to be placed under Section 22 of the PNDT Act and the websites should be made responsible for the advertisements popping up on use of certain key words.
Google, Yahoo and Microsoft had agreed to follow the law on sex determination and would not allow any advertisement or “publish any content” violative of the Pre-conception and Pre-natal Diagnostic Techniques (Prohibition of Sex Selection) Act. Solicitor-General Ranjit Kumar also said that it was the responsibility of the service providers to take steps to block the websites.
As directed by the bench the matter will be listed for final hearing on November 16. Also a status report with regards to the steps taken to block such websites is to be made as directed by Supreme Court.