The Supreme Court today stayed a Delhi High Court order setting aside the mandatory six-month training needed for performing ultrasonography and said that the wisdom of the legislature in adopting a policy cannot be substituted by the court while exercising judicial review.
A bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra and justices A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud, while staying the operation of the February 17 , 2016 high court order, said that prima facie the judgement has trenched upon an area of legislative policy.
"The Training Rules 2014 were made by the central government in exercise of the power conferred by Parliament. Prima facie, the rules are neither ultra vires the parent legislation nor do they suffer from manifest arbitrariness," the bench said.
The apex court also said that judicial review cannot extend to reappreciating the efficacy of a legislative policy adopted in a law which has been enacted by the competent legislature.
"We direct in consequence that the judgement of this court in Voluntary Health Association of Punjab shall be strictly enforced by all states and union territories untrammelled by any order of any high court or any other court," the bench said.
The court said that the directions issued by it in its decision in Voluntary Health Association of Punjab case must be read as integral to the enforcement of a law which has been enacted by Parliament to curb a grave social evil of female foeticide.
"More specifically, in its judgement of November 8, 2016, this court has required the states and the Union territories to implement the Pre-conception and Pre-natal Diagnostic Techniques (Prohibition of Sex Selection) (Six Months Training) Rules, 2014 forthwith. The decision explains that the provision for training required under the above subordinate legislation, is imperative to realise the objects and purposes of the Act," the bench said.
The apex court had in November 2016 had said that the menace of female foeticide corrodes human values and decreases the sex ratio, which is a sign of "colossal calamity" that cannot be allowed to happen.
"Parliament which has the unquestioned authority and legislative competence to frame the law considered it necessary to empower the central government to frame rules to govern the qualifications of persons employed in genetic counselling centres, laboratories and clinics.
"The wisdom of the legislature in adopting the policy cannot be substituted by the court in the exercise of the power of judicial review," the bench said while disposing of all the interlocutory applications in the matter.
Besides the Centre, Indian Radiological and Imaging Association, the association of radiologists in the country, had moved the apex court challenging the high court's decision on the issue.
The high court had declared the Rule 3(3)(1)(b) framed under the Pre-Conception and Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques (PCPNDT) Act, 1994 as ultra vires. It had also done away with the mandatory six-month training which was earlier required to be able to perform an ultrasound under the ambit of the law.
The PIL, filed by NGO Voluntary Health Association of Punjab, was disposed of in 2016 with the apex court passing a slew of directions to stop female foeticide in the country.