New Delhi :Search engines like Google, Yahoo and Microsoft are under “obligation” to check advertisements pertaining to pre-natal sex determination in India, the Supreme Court said on Monday, as it directed them to develop in-house methods to prohibit such content.
“In our considered opinion, they (Google, Yahoo and Microsoft) are under obligation to see that the ‘doctrine of auto block’ is applied within a reasonable period of time. It is difficult to accept the submission that once it is brought to their notice, they will do the needful. It need not be over emphasised that it has to be an in-house procedure/method to be introduced by the companies, and we do direct,” a bench of Justices Dipak Misra and C Nagappan said.
The direction came after Solicitor General Ranjit Kumar told the apex court that Indian units of Google, Yahoo and Microsoft have agreed to follow the law on sex determination and would not allow any advertisement or “publish any content” on the issue on their respective search engines.
He told the bench that all the three companies have developed a technique called “auto block” which prohibits advertisements on sex determination the moment any “advertisement or search” is introduced in the online system.
“If any person tries to avail the corridors of these companies, this device shall be adopted so that no one can enter/see the said advertisement or message or anything that is prohibited under the Pre-conception and Pre-natal Diagnostic Techniques (Prohibition of Sex Selection) Act, 1994, specifically under Section 22 of the said Act,” the bench said.
The Solicitor General also submitted a list of “proposed” 43 key words in respect of which, when commands are given, there would be “auto block” with a warning and nothing would be reflected on the internet.
Advocate Sanjay Parikh, appearing for petitioner Dr Sabu Mathew George seeking court’s intervention in view of decreasing sex ratio, however contended that the Centre should take more steps to see that the law of the land was completely obeyed by these three companies and the commitment given by them are fully followed.
He alleged that there were agencies which were still publishing such advertisements from which the gender of the foetus can be ascertained.