Terming the Supreme Court’s directive to the Centre to do away with sterilisation camps within three years as a “landmark” judgement, a policy advocacy body has said that it will help in strengthening the implementation and monitoring of the family planning programme.
“PFI welcomes the SC judgement which we consider a landmark one. Providing quality services to and upholding the dignity of women will now be placed strongly on the national agenda.
“This judgement will help in ensuring that at the state and district levels as well, the judgement is taken seriously. This will also help to strengthen the implementation and monitoring of the family planning programme,” said Poonam Muttreja, Executive Director, Population Foundation of India (PFI).
The apex court had recently directed the Centre to do away with sterilisation camps within three years and strengthen the primary healthcare centre system, saying, “It is time that women and men are treated with respect and dignity and not as mere statistics in the sterilisation programme.”
Referring to the Bilaspur sterilisation camp incident in 2014 where 16 women lost their lives, Muttreja said that a PFI report had demonstrated evidence on why the camps’ approach should be ended and instead fixed date services instituted as the norm for sterilisation services.
“Since Bilaspur, we have seen a very collaborative and supportive government at the Centre.
“In December 2014, the Health Ministry issued a directive to all principal secretaries for health at the state level to adhere to the guidelines and protocols to deliver quality family planning services in a spirit of voluntarism and within a rights and accountability framework,” Muttreja said.
She noted that there were several positives as a result of the judgement and the Ministry has been encouraged to promote gender equity in the family planning programmes.
“It has made clear that family planning is not just about women but also about men and the need for their increased involvement in family planning, that the sterilisation programme cannot be primarily targeted towards women but must also actively include men as well.
“Looking at the bigger picture, the judgement makes a strong case for India to address itself to gender equity, directing it to ensure strict adherence to the guidelines and standard operating procedures that it has issued in various manuals,” Muttreja said.
She said the best part of the judgement is that it fosters collaboration between the Centre and the states to find remedies to problems and improve the well being of its people and has the potential to to shape India’s family planning program into a program of national significance.