Delhi HC’s verdict on PCPNDT Training Rules stayed for trenching upon the area of legislative policy

Supreme Court: The 3-judge bench of Dipak Misra, CJ and AM Khanwilkar and Dr DY Chandrachud, JJ stayed the Delhi High Court judgement dated 17.02.2016 in Indian Radiological and Imaging Association (IRIA) v Union of India, Writ Petition (C) No. 6968 of 2011 for negating the directions given by the Supreme Court in Voluntary Health Association of Punjab v Union of India, (2016) 10 SCC 265.

In Voluntary Health Association of Punjab case, the Supreme Court had issued comprehensive directions for the purpose of effective implementation of the provisions of the Pre-conception and Pre-natal Diagnostic Techniques (Prohibition of Sex Selection) Act, 1994 (PCPNDT Act). In the said judgment, the Court had directed 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 considering that the provision for training required under the above subordinate legislation, is imperative to realise the objects and purposes of the Act.

When the validity of the said Training Rules was challenged before the Delhi High Court, it held that it was unable to find any provision in the PCPNDT Act empowering any of the bodies constituted under the law or even the Central government to prescribe qualifications for practicing medicine with the aid of an ultrasound imaging equipment or to prescribe the nature and content of the curriculum or duration of the qualification.

After going through the various provisions of the Training Rules and the PCPNDT Act, the Court said:

 “Prima facie the judgment of the Delhi High Court has trenched upon an area of legislative policy. Judicial review cannot extend to reappreciating the efficacy of a legislative policy adopted in a law which has been enacted by the competent legislature. Both the Indian Medical Council Act, 1956 and the PCPNDT Act are enacted by Parliament. Parliament has the legislative competence to do so. 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.”

It said that 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.

For the said reasons, the Court stayed the impugned Delhi High Court judgment and directed that   the judgment of this Court in Voluntary Health Association of Punjab case shall be strictly enforced by all states and union territories untrammelled by any order of any High Court or any other court. [Union of India v. Indian Radiological and Imaging Association, 2018 SCC OnLine SC 221, order dated 14.03.2018]

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