15 docs will taste bitter pill for revealing sex of babies

Doctors caught conducting sex determination tests face 5-yr suspension by state medical council; even jail terms

Fifteen doctors in the state are facing the axe from Maharashtra Medical Council (MMC) for violating the Pre-Conception Pre-Natal Diagnostic Technique (PCPNDT) Act. The breach includes performing sex determination tests and revealing the sex of the unborn child.

In the doc: Since the inception of the PC-PNDT Act, 288 court cases
have been filed by the state health department against doctors who
have been found violating the provisions of the said act.
Representation pic

Clamping down heavily on the menace, the state health department has asked MMC, a statutory body of medical practitioners, to suspend the licence to practice of these doctors against whom charges have been framed in court.

MMC has already sent show cause notice to these 15 doctors -- practising in various parts of the state -- asking them why action should not be taken against them.

Dr Kishor Taori, President of MMC, said, "The health department has sent us a list of 15 doctors against whom cases are filed in court and against whom charges are framed. According to the provisions in the PC-PNDT act 2003 and MMC act 1965, the council will temporarily suspend the set of doctors, which means they cannot practice medicine. Then depending on the verdict the court has delivered, their [doctor] suspension can be revoked if they are found not guilty, contrariwise, if found guilty, the suspension can be up to five years."

Since the inception of the PC-PNDT Act, 288 court cases have been filed by the state health department against doctors who have been found violating the provisions of the said act. Acting on tip offs and regular visits, state health department officials would conduct raids, sometimes even sending decoy patients, against doctors indulging in illegal sex determination. If the doctor is found violating the act, a case is filed in court and requisite charges are pressed.

Once the court frames the charges, the doctors' licence can be suspended.

Docs consultation
"We have sent show cause notices to these doctors and they have been given a period of seven days to reply to our notice. If they do not reply to our notice or are unable to provide us with appropriate court orders, which prove them innocent, we will suspend them. Earlier, we have faced situations when we have suspended the doctors and they appealed in the court stating that they haven't got a notice from us, so we are taking all precautions this time," said Dr Taori.

Impact of drive
Owing to the massive campaigning for 'Save the girl child', both by the health department and a slew of NGOs, the number of cases being filed in the court have increased. "This year we have filed a total of 130 cases. In 50 cases the court has framed charges and thus we have forwarded the names of these doctors to MMC, which has also initiated the suspension process. Suspension will act as a deterrent and will set an example to doctors who indulge in sex determination. If these doctors try to practice after suspension, they become quacks," said Dr S C Gupta, Director of Directorate of Health Services.

Hefty fine
A court in Satara on November 14 this year delivered the maximum punishment ever for sex determination test to a doctor from Pusegaon.

He was sentenced to 3 years imprisonment and fined Rs 1.5 lakh.

The accused, Dr Ambadas Chavan, was caught carrying out the pre-natal sex determination test during a sting operation on January 20, 2005. It took almost six years for the hearing of the case. 

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