Registration of Genetic Clinics & Diagnostic Centers can’t be suspended without notice, unless done in public interest

Kerala High Court: A Single Judge Bench comprising of P.B. Suresh Kumar, J. dealt with writs filed with regard to the Pre-conception and Pre-natal Diagnostic Techniques (Prohibition of Sex Selection), Act, 1994. The Act’s objective is to prohibit pre-natal diagnostic techniques for determination of sex of foetus leading to female foeticide. The Supreme Court in Voluntary Health Association of Punjab v. Union of India , (2013) 4 SCC 1  issued certain guidelines for the effective implementation of the provisions of the Act.

The respondent District Medical Officer, on the recommendations of the Inspection and Monitoring Committee inspected the premises of the petitioners, owning genetic clinics and diagnostic centers, and on finding that the provisions of the Act were being violated, seized the machinery being used by them,  subsequently suspending their registration under the said Act. The petitioners questioned the findings and recommendations of the Committee without giving the petitioners an opportunity to be heard. It was also contended that seizure of equipments was without jurisdiction and that their registrations could not be suspended without issuing a notice.

Relying on the provisions of the Act and on the guidelines issued under the aforementioned case, the Court concluded that the Act granted authority to inspect and give recommendations to the appropriate authority. Even seizure of machinery was provided for in the Act if it is found that its provisions have been flouted. However, registration cannot be suspended without issuing a notice and if no notice is issued in the interest of public, then the authority has to record their reason for not issuing notice. Therefore, the petitions were allowed in part. [Dr. Jessy Joseph v. State of Kerala,  2017 SCC OnLine Ker 8960, decided on 20.07.2017]

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