The state will soon appoint a panel of leading senior lawyers to fight sex selection cases in court. State health minister Suresh Shetty said the law and judiciary department has been instructed to provide names of top advocates to fight cases filed under the Pre Conception and Pre Natal Diagnostic Techniques Act (PCPNDT).
The state has been proactive in implementing the Act and the Maharashtra Medical Council (MMC) has so far suspended the registration of 47 doctors and issued warnings to 39 others. Limited resources with MMC, a quasi-legal body, prevented them from sending senior lawyers to fight the cases once doctors take the matter to the High Court.
“This is where we need senior and experienced lawyers to ensure doctors do not escape,” Shetty said. Shetty, who recently held a meeting of the state PCPNDT supervisory board said that since 2002, a total of 483 cases have been filed under provisions of the Act and 150 have been decided. There was 63 doctors who were convicted.
When contacted, Dr Kishore Taori, Chairman of the Maharashtra Medical Council (MMC) admitted that they did not have enough manpower to fight cases. There are several doctors who after being convicted are suspended by MMC. They approach HC against the MMC order. The lack of legal counsel made doctors get an upper hand, Taori said.
It may be recalled that sex ratio of newborns fell from 932 girls /1000 boys in 2001 to 918 in 2011 in the country. In Maharashtra, it dipped from 913 in 2001 to 883 in 2011.
Statistics compiled by the state show that at the Bombay High Court, 18 cases were pending, while there were 9 at Nagpur bench of the HC and 59 at Aurangabad bench. There are 14 cases filed under Act in the Supreme Court of which three are pending. Pune city is top of the chart in registering violations under the Act.
Following the decision to appoint senior lawyers, the new panel is likely to be set up by July 5 when the issue of designating medical institutions to provide training to MBBS doctors on recent amendments of the Act will also be taken up.
Among other decisions taken at the state supervisory board meeting were to fill Form F online in accordance with the new software developed by the centre and ensuring that each municipal corporation decides a new action plan to implement the Act.