CJ takes tough line on female foeticide

CHANDIGARH: Expressing concern over the continuously declining sex ratio in Punjab and Haryana and also the plight of child labourers, the newly-appointed chief justice of Punjab and Haryana high court, Justice Vijender Jain on Monday said that the State Legal Services Authority (SLSA) would be dedicating year 2007 to child labourers. He is also the patron-in-chief of SLSA. Justice Jain has also directed SLSA in Punjab to create a mass awareness programme to combat the rising trend of female infanticides in the state. Talking to TOI, the Chief Justice informed that year 2007 would be celebrated as a year of awakening. Mass awareness programmes to rehabilitate child labourers would be launched under the auspices of the State Legal Services Authority. The Chief Justice also expressed concern over the rising cases of female infanticide in Punjab. ‘‘My effort is to make the State Legal Services Authority of Punjab to take the rising cases of female infanticide as a challenge so that sex ratio in the state could be stabilised. Apart from that, efforts should also be made to highlight other social evils in the state,’’ informed Justice Jain. In order to channelise SLSAs in Punjab, Haryana and Chandigarh, the Chief Justice has appointed Justice S S Nijjar as the chairman of Punjab State Legal Services Authority, Justice J S Khehar as chairman of Chandigarh Legal Services Authority and Justice Mehtab Singh Gill as chairman of the High Court legal Services Committee. The Chief Justice of India, Justice Y K Sabharwal is also expected to join in this endeavour. He would be visiting Sangrur and Patiala on December 17 to participate in a seminar to spread awareness against female foeticide.

Crude facts

If facts are to be believed, between the time you read today’s and yesterday’s papers 275 female foetuses would have been aborted in various parts of Punjab alone. According to latest reports, one lakh female foetuses are aborted every year in Punjab. India has not signed a large number of international statues and therefore gets away with its responsibility towards the international community on this front. Female foeticide alone satisfies four of the five conditions set out in the Genocide Convention. The crime already matches, even surpasses, the worst episodes of genocide as 50 lakh female foetuses a year are aborted after sex determination tests. Lancetm, a British journal, estimated that over 10 million girls were lost in India over the last 20 years. The national average sex ratio has gone down from 972 in 1901 to just 933 in 2001. Punjab’s sex ratio of 793 in the age group of zero to six years is the lowest among all 28 Indian states and six union territories. In Haryana, there are about 861 females for over 1,000 men as opposed to the national average of 927 women.

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