22 May 2012
•Mumbai police’s Crime Branch will probe allegations of illegal abortions, sex determination tests against Dr Sudam Munde and if he fed the foetuses to his dogs
Reacting to shocking allegations of female foeticide against a Beed-based doctor, the state health department has approached the home department for the first time in a case under the Preconception and Pre-natal Diagnostic Techniques Act (PCPNDT). The Mumbai police’s crime branch has been asked to investigate.
Sources said on May 18, Vijaymala Patekar, who was six months pregnant, approached Dr Sudam Munde who runs Munde Hospital in Parli town of Beed district for an abortion after ascertaining that the foetus was female. They added that Patekar already had four daughters, and did not want another girl child.
However, Patekar died after the operation and a case was registered against Munde and his wife, Dr Saraswati Munde, for causing death by negligence under the IPC and also under the PCPNDT Act.
According to the state health department, Munde has been found to be operating his clinic despite the licence of his abortion centre having been suspended two years ago. The scope of investigation will also cover the allegation that Munde fed foetuses after abortions to his pet dogs.
State health minister Suresh Shetty said, "This doctor had a notorious past. Two years ago, health department officials sealed his sonography machine and cancelled his operating licence for illegally running a clinic for abortion and sex determination. But he didn’t stop his activities. We are going to pursue this case till the end and will also appeal to the Bombay High Court as he has already got bail from the district court. We have taken the help of the home department and the Crime Branch will investigate the matter."
Shetty added, "We have also asked police to investigate the allegation brought to us by our official, that Dr Munde had four dogs whom he used to feed foetuses after the abortions to destroy evidence." As per the 2011 Census, Beed district has the worst child sex ratio in Maharashtra.
Varsha Deshpande, chief functionary of Lekh Ladki Abhiyan, an NGO working against female foeticide and a member of the National Inspection and Monitoring Committee, Government of India, said, "In 2010, we conducted a sting operation on the same doctor by using a pregnant woman as a decoy for a sex determination test. He was found to be conducting such tests. But after the sonography machine was sealed and his licence was suspended, no action was taken against him. Incidentally, in June 2011, this doctor couple had been booked in another case after a foetus was found on their farm. The two are facing criminal charges in this regard."
She added, "Apart from the sting, we had also provided proof to the state health department that within the span of a month, a chemist in the vicinity of Dr Munde’s clinic in Parli had sold a whopping Rs 7.3 lakh worth of abortion-related drugs. Today, we met Chief Minister Prithiviraj Chavan and demanded that his case be heard outside the Marathwada region, as the doctor couple has considerable political clout there."
Speaking to Mirror, Dattatray Mandlik, SP, Beed, said, "First of all, in this case the woman died. No one came forward to file a police complaint, so we took cognisance and filed the case suo motu under IPC Section 304A, 201 (Causing death by negligence, causing disappearance of evidence of offence or giving false information to screen offender). With the help of the Beed district collector and civil surgeon, the investigation is being carried out. There are two to three past cases already against this doctor couple. We have also come to hear that he used to feed the foetus to his dogs." WHAT IS THE MTP?
According to health experts, Medical Termination of Pregnancy or MTP is also called induced abortion. It is the medical way of getting rid of an unwanted pregnancy. Any qualified gynaecologist (MD/DGO) can perform MTP. However, MTP should always be performed at a facility recognised by the government. MTP is legally permitted up to 20 weeks of gestation. It is illegal to perform MTP after determining sex of the child, as sex determination is banned by law