THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: At a time when the two-child norm of last century is scorned at across the country, the model state of family planning in India is contemplating punishment for couples with more than two children. The Law Reforms Commission of Kerala headed by eminent jurist Justice V R Krishna Iyer has recommended a penalty of Rs 10,000 and withdrawal of free education and health care for anyone who goes for a third child. The Church in Kerala has called it an import of the Chinese population policy by the Communist government. The Kerala Family Planning and Control Bill seeks to promote family planning and birth control as methods of controlling population. But what has stirred a storm is the suggestion for a penalty on any person who goes for a third child. A family or person having more than two children should also be denied facilities and advantages like free education, health assistance, facilities for housing and other priorities including employment allowed under schemes or projects of the state, says the Bill. Clause 7 of the Bill reads, "No person or institution shall use religion, region, sect, caste, cult or other inducements for production of more children than permitted." Once the law comes into force, "Any person or a public organization or institution associated with or carrying on the work of family planning and birth control" may approach a court against those found violating the provisions. Predictably, the proposal has invited sharp reactions from the Church. Only recently had the Kerala Catholic Bishop's Council expressed "grave" concern at the fall in the birth rate among its followers. What perturbed the Church was the swelling number of Muslims vis a vis falling population of Christians and Hindus in the state.
8 months ago