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Times of India
31 May 2011
By Umesh Isalkar
Pune, India

2 Doctors Issued Summons for Violating PCPNDT Act
The criminal court on Monday issued summons to two doctors in the city for violating provisions of the PCPNDT (Pre-Conception and Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques) Act 1994. During routine inspection of the sonography centres belonging to the two doctors, the civic body on Friday found irregularities pertaining to maintenance of record and renewal of registration of the sonography centre – both being serious offences under the Act.

"We had inspected the two sonography centres in Salisbury park and on Pune-Satara road on Friday. The sonography centre in Salisbury park was not maintaining a proper record of the F forms, filling of which is mandatory under the Act. The registration of the sonography centre on Pune-Satara was not renewed. We had sealed the machines the same day," said Vaishali Jadhav, assistant medical officer of the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) and appropriate authority to ensure effective implementation of the Act within the PMC limits.

Milind Salunkhe, special prosecutor of the civic body for the PCPNDT Act and other health issues, said, "Section 4 (3) of the PCPNDT Act says that if anybody is found maintaining incomplete records then it shall be presumed that the person has violated section 5 and section 6 of the Act. The violation would attract punishment under section 23 of the Act which amounts to rigorous imprisonment up to three years and fine up to Rs 10,000."

Elaborating on the presumption clause of the Act, Salunkhe said, "Section 5 (2) prohibits any doctor from communicating the sex of the foetus to anybody and section 6 prohibits determination of the sex of the foetus in any form – scientific or unscientific."

"The sonography centre in Salisbury park has failed to maintain forms F which is mandatory under the Act. More than 20 such incomplete forms F have been confiscated from the centre," said Salunkhe.

Besides, the civic authorities also inspected the centre on Pune-Satara road on Friday. "We found that the registration of the sonography centre functioning at the clinic had expired on September 30, 2010. The centre had been functioning and using sonography machines without getting the registration renewed under the PCPNDT Act which is an extremely serious offence," said Jadhav.

Elaborating, Salunkhe said, "Section 19 (3) of the Act says that registration shall be renewed within the stipulated period. A renewal application should be made before 30 days of the expiry date. Section 19 (4) of the Act says that the original copy of the registration certification shall be displayed at a conspicuous place in the centre. The violation of this also amounts to rigorous imprisonment up to three years and fine up to Rs 10,000."

"The appropriate authority filed a criminal case against both the sonography centres on Monday. The criminal court on the same day heard the argument of the civic body’s advocate and passed the order in respect of issuance of summons against the accused doctors. The court directed the accused to be present on the next date which is June 13," said Salunkhe, adding that, "Both the offences are non-bailable. The doctors will have to convince the court in respect of granting the bail on the date of summons. They cannot claim bail as their own right."
The two doctors could not be contacted despite repeated attempts.

State has 7,819 sonography centres
As per the provisional figure of 2011 census, the child sex ratio in Maharashtra is 883 girls per 1000 male children. It has decreased by 30 points since 2001. The city’s sex ratio at birth is a skewed 879 girls per 1,000 boys. Suresh Gupta, additional director (family welfare), said, "There are 7,819 sonography centres across the state. They are supervised and their audit is done every three months. The state government is making adequate efforts to check misuse of the technology but the preference for male child is deeply ingrained in our social ethos.

In 2004, there were 160 sonography centres in rural parts of Pune. In 2011, the number has grown to 361 – a hundred per cent rise. There were 221 such centres in Pune city then, now the number has risen to 426. In Pimpri-Chinchwad, the number went up from 45 to 102 during the same period.

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