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Why PCPNDT Act should not be flouted, a lesson from those who did

At least 40 doctors once booked under the Act have been counselled to deliver talks on how their ‘carelessness landed them in court’.

Written by Anuradha Mascarenhas | Pune |
June 12, 2014 10:09:05 am

They had been booked for flouting the Pre-Conception and Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques (PCPNDT) Act designed to protect the girl child. Now they are endorsing the ‘save the girl child’ campaign.

The Maharashtra Medical Council (MMC) wants the medical fraternity to learn lessons from their repentant colleagues who violated the Act.

“Definitely, for these doctors it is a case of once bitten twice shy. Radiologists and gynaecologists who have been pulled up dare not attempt a repeat and the best way to ensure lessons are learnt in the medical fraternity is to allow them to cite their ‘experiences’,” says Dr Kishore Taori, Chairman of the Maharashtra Medical Council (MMC).

In a unique experiment by the MMC, at least 40 doctors booked under the Act have been counselled to deliver talks on how their ‘carelessness landed them in court’ and exhort colleagues to adhere to the Act.

Only the doctors who flouted sections of the Act like not maintaining medical records of pregnant women, failing to update records online or not registering ultrasound machine have been roped in. Those booked for determining the sex of a yet-to-be-born baby will not be immediately allowed to share their experience in facing law enforcement agencies.

“The aim is to urge doctors booked under other sections of the Act to talk about the traumatic time faced from authorities implementing the Act. For instance, careless mistakes like incorrect spelling of name of the patient or forgetting to upload the medical history of the pregnant women can lead to violation of the Act. Most doctors were unaware about this, did not bother to understand provisions of the Act and hence have to face court cases,” Dr Shiv Utture, member of the executive committee of MMC said.

The sex ratio of newborns fell from 932 girls /1000 boys in 2001 to 918 in 2011 in the country. In Maharashtra, it nosedived from 913 in 2001 to 883 in 2011. Last year, 288 cases were filed against doctors under the PC-PNDT Act of which 116 convictions were secured and licence of 53 doctors suspended by the state medical council. However, Maharashtra has been proactive in implementing the PC-PNDT Act and till date, the MMC has suspended registration of 47 doctors and issued warnings to 39 others.

Maharashtra has filed 481 cases against doctors of which 66 have been convicted.

Majority of the cases pertain to non-maintenance of records while there area 19 cases where doctors have been caught in sting operations, revealing sex of the babies to their would-be parents.

Pune city is top of the chart in registering violations under the PCPNDT Act. A total of 47 cases have been filed in court of which 27 have been finalised. In the district, a total of 13 cases have been filed in court.

In Jalgaon district too 36 cases have been slapped on doctors for flouting the PCPNDT Act while Ahmednagar has registered 27 court cases and Beed has 24.

A total of 19 court cases have been filed by the Brihanmumbai Muncipal corporation while Navi Mumbai corporation registered 18 cases.

A recent study of the UN Population Fund— it is working with the Maharashtra Judicial Academy and Bombay High Court to sensitise judicial officers on issues related to gender-based sex selection — found the PCPNDT Act can play an important role in addressing the decline in sex ratio, change in attitudes and perceptions to accept daughters as equally important to sons and a supporting legal and policy environment.

So far 1,800 judges and 795 prosecutors have been sensitized in effectively dealing with cases under the Act and at MMC, officers just hope this experiment works as well.

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