Population control law: What is it? Why is it detrimental and necessary and what led the Union Minister to propose a more ardent foundation for Population Control Law.
What is Population Control Law?
According to the United Nations, India has more than 1,4 billion people, making it the second-most populated country in the world. However, the world population assessment projects that by 2030, India would surpass China as the world’s most populous nation.
The population control bill of 2019, which was retracted in 2022, advocated a two-child policy per spouse and sought to incentivize its adoption with educational incentives, free healthcare, greater work possibilities, housing loans, and tax savings.
What does the Constitution say?
Article 22 of the 1969 Declaration on Social Progress and Development, which was approved as a resolution by the United Nations General Assembly, guarantees that couples have the right to freely and responsibly determine the number of children they will have. The policy to manage and regulate the number of children breaches Article 16 (fair opportunity in terms of public employment) and Article 21 (freedom of religion) (protection of life and liberty).
What is the Constitutional challenge if such a law is proposed?
Since independence, the two-child policy has been presented in Parliament 35 times. If passed, the law must take the rights of divorced couples and the Islamic religion into account. Earlier presented laws lacked these characteristics and were strongly criticised by the general public.
Position taken by the states
In 2017, the Assam Assembly enacted the “Population and Women’s Empowerment Policy of Assam,” which stipulated that only candidates with two children were eligible for government employment, and current government employees were required to adhere to the two-child family standard. In 2021, the state policy was changed to exclude anyone with more than two children from government employment.
Similarly, in 2021, the law commission of Uttar Pradesh proposed that anybody with more than two children will not be eligible for government assistance. The proposed legislation is being considered.
Cases in Court
In response to a PIL filed by BJP leader and lawyer Ashwani Kumar Upadhyay challenging a Delhi High Court order dismissing a plea seeking certain steps, including a two-child norm for population control, the Centre told the Supreme Court in 2020 that India is unequivocally opposed to imposing family planning on its people and that any coercion to have a certain number of children is counter-productive and leads to demographic distortions.
In 2018, the Supreme Court dismissed a petition asking the court to direct the Centre to make the two-child policy mandatory throughout the country in order to ensure strict population control.
What are the Ramifications of Law?
Coercive population control measures would encourage sex-selection and unsafe abortion is given the collective desire for a male child.
Women will seek abortions as an alternative, jeopardizing their health and increasing illegal practices
What do other countries’ population control laws look like?
China, the world’s most populous country, has taken the lead in instituting a strict one-child policy for families.
Kenya launched family planning campaigns with the goal of matching population size to available resources.
Russia, on the other hand, is experiencing a population decline due to high mortality rates, which are likely due to factors such as drugs and alcohol.