NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Thursday slammed search engines like Google, Yahoo and Microsoft for not obeying Indian laws by allowing online advertisement on sex determination test which is banned in India.
The court directed all companies to immediately constitute in-house expert bodies to identify and block keywords indicative of sex determination.
“We direct the Union of India to constitute a nodal agency which would give advertisements on TV, radio and in newspapers that if anybody comes across anything which identify a girl or a boy (at pre-natal stage), it should be brought to the notice of the nodal agency in one week time,” the bench said.
The bench took strong exception to Google's affidavit filed in the court which stated that it is not possible to block information on issues that may be illegal in India.
“You are operating in India, so you will have to abide by Indian laws,” the bench remarked and asked Google to file additional affidavit in the case stating that it will follow Indian laws.
In the previous hearing, the bench had expressed concern over the declining sex ratio and said, “Whether one will have a boy or a girl, that kind of information is not necessary in India. The sex ratio is going down here and we are concerned about that. We had passed an order recently on this. Whether you are making money or not we are not concerned with that. The 1994 (Pre-Conception and Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques) Act says nobody shall propagate (pre-natal sex determination) and if anyone is propagating, it has to be stopped.”
However, countering search engines claim that they have blocked such advertisements, advocate Sanjay Parikh, appearing for petitioner Sabu Mathew George claimed that still one can see advertisements and information pertaining to gender determination on such websites.
The apex court had in August issued notices to the search engines asking whether the auto-complete feature for keyword search relating to pre-natal sex determination was viable and they had also identified 22 terms for which the search engine companies were asked to automatically block advertisements.