Syllabus– General Studies 1 (Geography)
Human Aspects – Population distribution, Urban Population, Internal Migration.
On World Population Day (11 July), the government of Uttar Pradesh released a “Population Policy” in which it stated its intention to bring the gross fertility rate in the State down from the existing 2.7 to 2.1 by 2026.
- To achieve this, the government says it will consider the enactment of a new piece of legislation.
The new policy aims to
- decrease the Total Fertility Rate from 2.7 to 2.1 by 2026 and 1.7 by 2030;
- increase Modern Contraceptive Prevalence Rate from 31.7 to 45 by 2026 and 52 by 2030;
- increase male methods of contraception use from 10.8 to 15.1 by 2026 and 16.4 by 2030;
- decrease Maternal Mortality Rate from 197 to 150 to 98 and Infant Mortality Rate from 43 to 32 to 22 and Under 5 Infant Mortality Rate from 47 to 35 to 25.
Under the proposed bill a two-child norm will be implemented and promoted.
- 3% increase in the employer’s contribution fund under national pension,
- Two additional increments during the entire service,
- Subsidy towards the purchase of plot or house site or building a house,
- Preference to the single child in admission in all education institutions,
- A couple living below the poverty line that has only one child and undergoes voluntary sterilisation shall be eligible for payment of a one-time ₹80,000 if the single child is a boy and ₹1 lakh if it is a girl.
- A person who will have more than two children after the law comes to force would be debarred from several benefits such as
- government sponsored welfare schemes,
- ration card units would be limited to four, and
- the person will be barred from contesting elections to local authority or anybody of the local self-government.
- The person contravening the law would also become
- ineligible to apply for government jobs under the State government,
- will be barred from promotion in government services and
- will not receive any kind of subsidy.
- In Suchita Srivastava & Anr vs Chandigarh Administration (2009), the Supreme Court found that a woman’s freedom to make reproductive decisions is an integral facet of the right to personal liberty guaranteed by Article 21.
- However in Javed & Ors vs State of Haryana & Ors (2003), the Court upheld a law that disqualified persons with more than two children from contesting in local body elections.
- The Supreme Court’s nine-judge Bench verdict in K.S. Puttaswamy vs Union of India (2017) said that the Constitution sees a person’s autonomy over her body as an extension of the right to privacy.
- Doctrine of proportionality: But, as Puttaswamy clarifies, any restriction placed on the right to privacy must conform to a doctrine of proportionality. By all accounts, the proposed law will fall foul of a proportionality analysis.
- This requires
- that the limitation be rooted in statute
- that the state show us that the objective of its law is founded on a legitimate governmental aim;
- that there are no alternative and less intrusive measures available to achieve the same objective; and
- that there exists a rational connection between the limitation imposed and the aims of the statute.
- The draft law invariably instil an attitude of discrimination, with a burden imposed disparately on the most vulnerable groups in society. Any penal population policy tends to doubly exclude the poor and the marginalised.
- Demographic distortions: In a contracting population, the ratio between the working-age and dependent population gets disrupted.
- There are more efficacious and alternative measures available to control the growth of population, including processes aimed at improving public health and access to education.
- International obligations: India was committed to its obligations under international law, including the principles contained in the International Conference on Population and Development Programme of Action, 1994.
- This means India made a commitment to the international community that it will honour the individual right of the couples to decide freely the number of children they want to have and also decide spacing between the births of their kids.
- An already skewed sex ratio may be compounded by families aborting a daughter in the hope of having a son with a view to conforming to the two-child norm.
- The law could also lead to a proliferation in sterilisation camps: In Devika Biswas vs Union of India (2016), the Court pointed to how these camps invariably have a disparate impact on minorities and other vulnerable groups.
Question –The draft population bill by Uttar Pradesh government impinges upon the right to privacy. Comment.