Author: Suyash Tripathi, Amity Law School, Gwalior
Uttar Pradesh is the most populous state in India. The state of Uttar Pradesh, located in north central part of the nation, accommodates one-sixth of Indian Population and 3% of the world population. The estimated population in the year 2021 is approximately 241 million (24.1 Crores) as per Aadhar India Unique Identification.
The Government of Uttar Pradesh has passed Uttar Pradesh Population Bill, 2021 to control the population of the state. The author here has tried to analyse all the aspects of the Bill. It has been tried by the author to speculate the main provisions of the Act and to pedantically examine the effect of the act on the society.
Keywords- Population, Populous, Bill, Decennial growth, Stabilisation
In biology, a population is a number of aggregate organisms of the same group or species who reside in a particular geographical area and can interbreed.
In sociology, population refers to the collection of human beings.
Sterilization means any process that kills or removes every form of life. After sterilization, an object is called as being sterile. In context of humans, Sterilization is any number of medical process of controlling natality that intentionally makes a person unable to reproduce.
Uttar Pradesh has an area of 2,40,928 square km. The Decennial Growth rate (2001-2011) (As per census 2011) is 20.09 percent.
The Uttar Pradesh Population (Control, Stabilisation and Welfare) Bill, 2021, it came on heels of the 2022 Assembly elections in the state.
The Preamble of the Bill reads:
“A Bill to revitalize efforts and provide for measures to control, stabilize and provide welfare to the population of the State by implementation and promotion of two child norm and for matters connected therewith and incidental thereto.”
Definition of Married Couple
As per Section 3(5), of The Uttar Pradesh Population( Control, Stabilization and Welfare Bill,2021), a ‘married couple’ means:
“ a married couple, the marriage of which has been solemnized legally and where the boy is not less than 21 years of age and girl is not less than 18 years of age.”
Explanation of same section reads:
In cases, where the religious or personal law governing an individual allows for polygamous or polyandrous marriage, there may be a set of married couple, each of which shall consist of one man and one woman only, through the husband or wife, may be common in each set.
Incentives and Disincentives
It has been provided in Chapter II of the said act that Notwithstanding anything contained in any other law for the time being in force, the public servants under the control of state government who adopts a two-child norm by undergoing voluntary sterilization operation upon himself or spouse shall be rendered incentives such as two additional increments during entire service, subsidy towards purchase of plot or a house, maternity leave for 12 month with full salary and allowances, free health care facilities etc.
The section 8 in the same chapter of the said act that, Whosoever, after the commencement of this Act, in contravention of two child norm procreates more than two children shall be subject to few Disincentives such as Debarring from benefit of Government sponsored welfare schemes, Limit of ration card Units upto Four, Bar on contesting election to local bodies, bar on applying to government jobs etc.
General Exceptions to the law
Chapter III of the proposed bill provide the exception to the bill.
Section 13 mentions that Multiple Birth out of second pregnancy is an exception.
It can be illustrated with a simple case that A and his wife had a child born out of the first pregnancy on 01.01.2021. On 01.01.2023, they subsequently have two children born out of the second pregnancy. The Actions of A and B are not in contravention to the two-child norm under this act.
Section 14 reads that an action shall not deemed in contravention of two-child norm under the proposed act, if an individual having two children conceived from marriage adopts a third child under The Hindu Adoption and Maintenance Act,1956 or The Juvenile Justice Act,2015 or any other law for time being in force.
In addition to this, if an individual conceives a third child subsequently and has a child suffering from any disability among the prior two, his action shall not be deemed in contravention of two child norm under the proposed bill as mentioned in section 15 of the proposed bill.
Moreover, if the child born out of earlier pregnancy dies, the action of conceiving a third child will not be considered in contravention of two child norm as stated in section 16 of the proposed bill.
Problem with Penalties
Families who will have more than two children will face penalties as discussed earlier.
De-incentivisation will focus on a very small portion of people. It is unfair to bar the people who are poor, from government schemes, just for the reason that they have more than two children. Sometimes due to lack of awareness or due to extreme poverty conditions, or inability to afford the contraceptives, people have more kids.
This act proposes a negative model of punishing the people who have more than two kids.
A danger for Girl – Child
We live in a patriarchal society. In our society, birth of a son is celebrated whereas that of the girl is condemned. As per this act, people will be subject to penalties if they have more than two children so every parent in our society will be forced to commit crime of killing a girl child in womb (foeticide) so that the girl child doesn’t come in count and they can have a male child in the count of two.
As per census of 2011, Sex ratio of Uttar Pradesh is 908 females per thousand of males.
Thus, eventually, the proposed bill will lead to deterioration of the condition of females in society and a decrease in sex ratio endangering the females in coming times.
According to Article 14 of Indian Constitution, the state shall not deny to any individual equality before the law within the territory of the nation. The state, however, holds authority to group denizens into a particular class and treat them in a different manner from the ones who do not fall into the class so-created.
The Bill is a flagrant attempt to make two subsets of public servants and organ of general public in Uttar Pradesh: those who have undergone sterilization operation and the ones who have not.
Is the formation of two classes of government employees/members of the general public on the basis of the sterilization operation by the proposed Bill constitutionally permissible under Article 14 of Indian Constitution?
According to the proposed Bill, it is pertinent to control and stabilize the population to ensure the sustainable development of the state. Thus, proponents of the Bill will first have to show that the medical operation of sterilization is the only left means of ensuring that population remain stabilized and under control. Once they are able to prove so, they will have to prove that controlling growth of the population ensures sustainable development.
While it is difficult to argue with the ends sought to be achieved by the proposed Bill – sustainable economic development is a plausible objective that is without any question of doubt constitutional – the means adopted is a violation of Article 14 of the Indian Constitution.
‘Population Explosion’- A Myth
According to the data until August 2019, Our Nation – India had no contemporary ‘population explosion’. Instead, the trend was in the reverse direction. Indian women had a Gross fertility rate of 6 in the year 1960, and the number drop to 2.2 by the year 2018.
As per the survey conducted in the year 2018 – 2019, India’s population rose 1,3 % per annum from 2011 to 2016, down from 2.5 % per annum from 1971 to 1981.
Considering a shift in demographics that has already occurred and will intensify, the proposed Bill will only further marginalize the already marginalized.
It can be substantiated that the proposed bill has been passed by the government in good faith to stabiles and control the population of the state but the bill has certain drawbacks. It can be enforced after making certain changes to the provisions of the bill as suggested by the scholars and public in general as well. It has been suggested to allow 3rd child after two daughters to prevent the female infanticide and to make situations better for the females in our society. Also, there has been a suggestion to give more incentive to the parents having a single child, which has been condemned because it will create a further shrink in the gross population of the state. Likewise, there have been more than 8,000 suggestions to the proposed bill. The government of the state is going through all of them and will enforce the bill after duly incorporating all the suggestion for the general welfare.