An expert committee constituted by the Maharashtra government held a meeting in Pune on Wednesday to review cases in which doctors and radiologists have been acquitted of various charges related to foetal sex determination under the Pre-conception and Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques (PC-PNDT) Act. Dr Archana Patil, in-charge of the State Family Welfare Bureau, told The Indian Express that as many as 572 cases have been filed under various sections of the PC-PNDT Act in the state.
The main aim of the Act is to ban the use of sex selection techniques after conception and prevent the misuse of prenatal diagnostic techniques for sex-selective abortions. While 280 cases are pending in court, the accused in 180 cases were acquitted by the Judicial Magistrate First Class court.
According to state health officials, in 91 cases, the accused were convicted. “We want to understand whether there are cases that can be taken up for further appeal,” said Anuja Gulati, state coordinator of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA). Cases filed by appropriate authorities implementing the Act in various districts, in which the court had ruled in favour of the defendant, were taken up at the state supervisory board’s previous meeting.
According to Patil, there are several technical reasons due to which a large number of cases ended in acquittals. State officials pointed out that simple errors could be among the reasons: in some cases, official documents stating that the concerned person was an appropriate authority implementing the Act were not submitted. “We want to discuss the merits of each case and decide whether they are fit for appeal,” said Patil.
Recently, the state stepped up its efforts to check illegal sex determination, following reports about the Sangli abortion racket, where a homeopathic doctor was arrested for carrying out sex-selective abortions. Based on data from the civil registration system under the Birth and Death Registration Act, the sex ratio at birth in Pune district has fallen by 53 points. From 891 girls born per 1,000 boys in 2,015, the sex ratio fell to 838 girls per 1,000 boys in 2016. In Maharashtra, provisional figures showed that the sex ratio at birth for children born in 2016 stood at 899. It was 914 girls per 1,000 boys in 2014 and 907 per 1,000 boys in 2015.
PMC medical officer seeks to monitor implementation of PC-PNDT and MTP Acts
Pune: Citing the dip in sex ratio at birth in areas under the Pune Municipal Corporation, Assistant Medical Officer Dr Vaishali Jadhav, who handles the implementation of the PC-PNDT Act, has now sought to monitor the Medical Termination of Pregnancy (MTP) Act in the city. Jadhav has sent two letters to the additional director of State Family Welfare Bureau, on July 13 and July 31, on the issue.
Jadhav said the former acting chief medical officer, Dr S T Pardeshi, had given the charge of monitoring the PC-PNDT Act and the MTP Act to two different health officers in April 2015. She said the aim was to ensure that the person monitoring the PC-PNDT Act did not have any say in the implementation of the MTP Act. Jadhav has alleged that the lack of implementation of MTP Act had impacted efforts to raise the overall sex ratio at birth.
Dr Anjali Sabne, who is in charge of monitoring the MTP Act in the city, refused to comment. Health officials also refused to comment on the “PMC’s internal matter”