Editorial: People’s responsibility

The Union government recently told the Supreme Court that India is unequivocally against forcing family planning on its people and any coercion to have a certain number of children is counter-productive and leads to demographic distortions.

The Health Ministry told the apex court that the family welfare programme in the country is voluntary in nature, which enables couples to decide the size of their family and adopt family planning methods best suited to them, according to their choice and without any compulsion.

The affidavit was filed in the top court in response to a PIL filed by BJP leader and lawyer Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay challenging a Delhi High Court order that dismissed a plea seeking certain steps, including two-child norm, to control the country’s growing population.

The government said that ‘public health’ is a State subject and the State governments must lead the process of health sector reforms in a suitable and sustainable manner to protect the common people from health hazards.

“Improvement in the health sector can be effectively led by the State government with effective monitoring and specific intervention to control and regulate the implementation process of the guidelines and schemes in a proper perspective,” it stated.

It added: “The answering respondent no. (ministry) plays a supportive and facilitative role in achieving the health care reforms and outcomes. It is reiterated that the answering respondent no. 1 merely acts as a facilitator for providing accessible and affordable health care through state-led reforms in the health sector.”

The Ministry said that as far as implementation of the guidelines and schemes in the States is concerned, it does not have any direct role and it is the prerogative of the respective State governments to implement the schemes as per the prescribed guidelines. The Ministry only allocates funds to state governments for implementation of the approved schemes, it said.

It also told the top court that India has adopted a comprehensive and holistic National Population Policy (NPP), 2000, with clearly articulated objectives, strategic themes and operational strategies. The responsibility mainly lies with the people to control population for the betterment of their family and the country.

 

NT Bureau