27 April 2012
By Shibu Thomas
In a relief for doctors across the state, the Bombay high court has said that officers visiting sonography clinics should record statement of the medical practitioner in case they are to be charged with violating the pre–natal diagnostic rules.
Coming to the rescue of Nanded–based Dr Uma Rachewa (60), who was being prosecuted for flouting the rules, Justice A V Nirgude said that the case filed against the gynaecologist did not prima facie disclose any offence and the complaint was lodged hurriedly.
"When a competent authority visits a clinic for inspection, statement of the person against whom the case is to be filed has to be recorded. In such statement, a person would get ample opportunity to put forward his or her explanation," said the judge. "The authority should consider each case on its merits, examine it meticulously, preferably with the help of a legal advisor and then file complaint in the court."
The court noted that in Rachewa's case, "necessary care was not taken and the case was filed hurriedly, without examining its strength". Rachewa, who runs a maternity hospital, was booked under the Pre–conception and Pre–natal Diagnostic Techniques (Prohibition of Sex Selection Act) in March 2011. She was accused of not maintaining proper records, writing "NA" on many forms and not putting up a combined board indicating that sex determination tests were not conducted at her clinic.
The court noted that the "NA" was written in columns which were not applicable in the particular case. Further, though the clinic had two separate boards, the authorities insisted on a combined board. The court also observed that no opportunity was given to the doctor to explain why an old record was not available.
"The staff assigned for inspection must ask the doctor, who is likely to be made accused, as to what had happened to that part of the record. The petitioner could have certainly answered this question. If such answer is not found satisfactory, only then the doctor and in this case the petitioner could have been accused of committing contravention of the provisions of the law," said the judge, while quashing the case against Rachewa.