Looking into the demographics of India gives a clear understanding that, the population is rising steadily. It is high time that we need to control population as India is densely populated. The Population Control Bill, 2020 aims to get population under control. The bill has many advantages and drawbacks which are elaborately discussed in this article.
By: Tanushree GL, 5th Year, B.Com LL.B, Sastra Deemed To Be University.
It is very pertinent to note that passing bills for population have not been an easy task, as every time an attempt is made, it is not successfully done. Right from 1950’s sincere efforts to control population has been taken by the government. The stigma is attached to the people that every family needs more children and using contraceptives is considered a sin in some places. The recent Covid-19 pandemic has made a point that India is at more risk due to more people living in small places.
The Population Control bill, 2020 is a private member bill which aims at a uniform law throughout the country. Senior Advocate A.M.Singhvi planned on presenting this bill before Rajya Sabha during the winter session of 2019.
Features of the Bill:
- The Statement of Objects and Reasons points out that at this pace India will be the highly populated country in the world, taking down China by 2024. It also mentions the repercussions of high population in India like socio economic issues, large scale environmental degradation, reduction in agricultural holdings, lack of basic facilities like education and health which leads to poor infrastructure. According to United Nations World Population Prospects report, until 2050 there will be a rise in population despite the fertility rate reduction. So the bill focuses more on the decrease in population growth rather than stabilizing it. The bill seeks to achieve this through providing incentives and disincentives.
- The Preamble of the bill reflects its objective by stating that, “to provide for measures to control the population in the country and for matters connected therewith and incidental thereto”.
- Sec.3 of the bill deals with the Applicability of the Act. It states that the Act would apply only to married couples. It specifies the age limit of the boy and the girl by expressly stating that ,”the boy is not less than twenty-one years of age and the girl is not less than eighteen years of age”
- Sec.4 casts a duty on the Central Government to ensure the availability of Contraceptives at a price which is reasonable and available all over the country at all sub health centres.
- Sec.5 states that 100 districts with higher population growth rate shall have a District population stabilisation committee established. That Committee shall comprise (a) the Chief Medical Officer of the district; (b) the District Collector; and (c) one representative from each Panchayat Samiti in the district. The duty of the Committee is to create awareness and encouragement regarding use of contraceptives in the concerned district.
- States with average fertility rate of more than replacement rate of 2.1 children per woman, under Sec.9 has to introduce compulsory subject on population control in all senior secondary schools.
- Sec.10 deals with constitution of National Population Stabilization Fund by the Central Government. The Central Government hold the power to decide the ratio of contribution to the fund but it must be in proportion to the fertility rate of the State. The funds are redistributed to the States who have implemented reforms to control population and have been able to significantly reduce their population growth rate.
Sec.6 clearly mentions that a couple having one child voluntarily undergoing sterilisation or operation shall be provided by the appropriate government following benefits:
(a) preference to the single child for admission in institutes of Higher Education;
(b) preference for selection to the single child in Government jobs;
(c) such other benefits that may be prescribed by the appropriate Government.
Sec.7 deals with benefits for couple below poverty line with one child and has voluntarily undergone sterilisation or operation. The benefit provided to such couple is lump some onetime payment from the Central Government, which is sixty thousand in case of boy and One lakh in case of girl. This benefit offered under Sec.7 operates in addition to the benefits under Sec.6
Sec.13 provides that the Central Government shall prefer candidates having two or less than two living children in case of employee recruitment.
In case of the employee with disabled child, then he may be allowed to procreate one more child. Any violation of this Act by the Central Government employee would lead to dismissal from service.
Disadvantages in case of having more than two children:
Sec.8 debars the couple with more than two children from,
- contesting in Lok Sabha, State Legislature, and Panchayat elections;
- getting elected to the Rajya Sabha, the State Legislature, and similar elective bodies
- getting promotion in government services;
- applying to ‘Group A’ jobs under the Central and State Governments;
- receiving any kind of Government subsidy, in case the married couple falls in the Above Poverty Line category.
Sec.12 insists that the Central Government employees to submit an undertaking that they shall not procreate more than two children and in case of already having more than two children, then undertaking as to no more procreation should be submitted.
In Bachchan Singh v. State of Punjab, the Court explained:
“Necessary element of the rule of law is that the law must not be arbitrary or irrational and it must satisfy the test of reason and the democratic form of polity seeks to ensure this element by making the framers of the law accountable to the people.”
The twin test should be satisfied in order to consider the bill to be a reasonable classification:
1. The classification must be found on an intelligible differentia.
2. The differentia must have a reasonable nexus to the object sought to be achieved.
The impugned bill satisfies the twin test by providing an intelligible differentia between couple having more than two children and couple having less than two children. And it is very clear that the differentia has a reasonable nexus to the object sought to be achieved which is to encourage family planning and control the population.
The Constitutional mandate under Act 21 spells out a fundamental right that has been interpreted by the Supreme Court to include medical care of every person, followed by the Directive Principles of the State Policy that are engrafted in Act 39, 42 and 47 where the State is obliged to maintain health standards and improve public health(1). So there is no violation of the Article 21 as it falls under reasonable restrictions. The Bill in no way curtails the reproductive right but just limits it to an extent that it does not affect the public health and other issues faced due to over population. In fact, this Bill upholds Article 21 by ensuring the right to dignified living as population control strives to provide quality life to every individual. An unborn child is not a person until it is born, so the right to life is not extended to unborn child.
Article 25 itself permits a legislation in the interest of social welfare and reform which are obviously part and parcel of public order, national morality and the collective health of the nation’s people(2). A practice may be a religious practice but not an essential and integral part of practice of that religion, the latter is not protected by Article 25(3).
So from the above interpretation it is very clear that procreating more has never been an essential practice under any religion and so it is not protected under Art.25.
The Bill seeks to promote family planning and use of contraceptives in order to reduce population. The bill emphasises on two child per family in order to control population. It withstands the constitutional test and has an innovative way of providing benefits and disincentives in order to make the bill a successful one.
(1)Ram Prasad Jaiswal vs Central Bureau Of Investigation on 16 January, 2014
(2)Javed&Ors vs State Of Haryana &Ors., (2003) 8 S.C.C. 369(India).
(3)M. Ismail Faruqui (Dr) v. Union of India, (1994) 6 S.C.C. 360(India).