Unable to compel family planning, at the center of the Supreme Court on population control

Center said he was against forced family planning. (Representative)

New Delhi:

The Center told the Supreme Court that India is unequivocally against forcing family planning on its people and that any compulsion to have a certain number of children is counterproductive and leads to demographic distortions. .

In an affidavit filed in the Supreme Court, the Department of Health told the Supreme Court that the family protection program in the country is voluntary in nature, which allows couples to decide on the size of their families and to adopt the family planning methods that suit them best, according to their choice and without any constraint.

The submission was made in response to a PIL filed by BJP leader and lawyer Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay challenging a Delhi High Court order that rejected a plea requesting certain measures, including the two-child standard, to control the growing population of the country.

The ministry said “public health” is a state matter and state governments should lead the process of health sector reforms in an appropriate and sustainable way to protect ordinary people from health risks.

“The improvement of the health sector can be carried out effectively by the state government with effective monitoring and specific intervention to control and regulate the process of implementing guidelines and programs from an appropriate perspective,” said he declared.

“Respondent #1 (Ministry) plays a supporting and facilitating role in achieving health care reforms and outcomes. It is reiterated that Respondent #1 merely acts as a facilitator to provide accessible health care and affordable through reforms in the health sector,” he said.

The ministry said that with regards to the implementation of the guidelines and programs in the states, it has no direct role and it is the responsibility of the respective state governments to implement the programs according to the prescribed guidelines. .

The ministry allocates funds only to state governments for the implementation of approved programs, he added.

The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare told the Supreme Court that India adopted a comprehensive and holistic National Population Policy (NPP) in 2000 with clearly articulated objectives, strategic themes and operational strategies. .

The 2017 National Health Policy (PNS) provides policy direction to inform, clarify, strengthen and prioritize the role of government in shaping health systems in all its dimensions, he said.

The PSN sets indicative and quantitative goals and targets, including achieving a total fertility rate (TFR) of 2.1 by 2025.

The Program of Action of the 1994 International Conference on Population and Development, to which India is a signatory, is unequivocal against coercion in family planning.

“In fact, international experience shows that any coercion to have a certain number of children is counterproductive and leads to demographic distortions,” the ministry said.

India is witnessing a steady decline in TFR, the ministry said, adding that the fertility rate, which was 3.2 at the time of the adoption of the NPP, has dropped significantly to 2.2 according to the 2018 sample registration system.

The top court had earlier requested the Centre’s response to a plea challenging an order from the Delhi High Court that rejected a PIL requesting certain measures, including the two-child standard, to control the country’s growing population.

The appeal challenged the High Court’s September 3 order, which held that it was for Parliament and the state legislatures to enact laws, not the court.