State,BMC to check genetic counselling centres

Allegations of sex determination test by Shah Rukh Khan prompt action

Written by Express News Service | Mumbai | Published: June 27, 2013 2:18 am

Following allegations that actor Shah Rukh Khan (SRK) conducted a test to determine the sex of his yet-to-be-born surrogate child,the state government and BMC have decided to crack down on genetic counselling centres. A report is expected in 15 days.

The centres counsel families on planning and management. Parents are made aware of disorders unborn children may inherit,the consequences and options available to them.

“Like the crackdown on PCPNDT (pre-conception and pre-natal diagnostic technique) centres across the state,it is time to take a serious view of genetic counselling centres. We will soon begin action,” said Jayant Kumar Banthia,state chief secretary.

Additional municipal commissioner Manisha Mhaiskar,in-charge of the BMC public health department,said all such clinics in Mumbai would be checked starting next week.

“The Shah Rukh Khan sex determination issue highlights the need to streamline IVF and genetic counselling clinics. The law mandates BMC inspect these centres. We will start the exercise next week,” she said.

The crackdown comes after activist Varsha Deshpande met Banthia and Mhaiskar and served a legal notice to the state demanding action against SRK and genetic counselling centres breaking Pre-Conception and Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques (Prohibition of Sex Selection) Act,1994 .

Deshpande,supported by NGOs such as Laadli and Indian Radiologists Association,alleged over 50 genetic clinics in Mumbai region and over 150 in the state were conducting sex determination.

“We have served the state a legal notice under section 21(B) of PCPNDT Act and a response according to law is expected within 15 days. If they fail to do so,we will file a private criminal case against the government and the centres. Many genetic counselling and IVF centres in big private hospitals in the city regularly carry out illegal sex determination,” she said.

Deshpande also petitioned the authorities to not discriminate between SRK and other citizens.

“Sex determination is a very serious issue. The government will question the sources who provided information to newspapers and take appropriate action,” she said.

Mhaiskar said BMC would take action once confusion over jurisdiction was cleared.

“It is a problem of jurisdiction. We do not know whether SRK conducted a sex-determination test in Mumbai or in any other place. If it is found that he did indeed conducted the test here,appropriate action will be taken,” she said.

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