Doctors, especially radiologists, at the Indian Medical Association (IMA) have plans to demand an amendment in the Pre-Conception and Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques (PCPNDT) Act, and say there should be gradation in punishment in accordance with the severity of the fault. As per the current act, doctors not filling ‘F’ form appropriately are given the same punishment as someone conducting sex determination tests or illegal abortions.
Dr Vaijayanti Patwardhan, chief of the PC-PNDT Cell at IMA said that as per the PCPNDT Act, violators are treated equally even if there is a vast difference in the severity of the crime committed. For example, if a doctor does not fill up ‘F’ form properly, he or she is given the same punishment as someone conducting sex determination tests or illegal abortions.
“We are in the process of approaching state officials and the Pune medical officer of health for the same. There should be gradation of punishment. As of now, anyone who violates the Act in any way will be sentenced to three years imprisonment and is required to pay a compensation of Rs 10,000. Also, his or her membership of the Maharashtra Medical Council will be cancelled,” Patwardhan said.
A doctor, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said, “I had committed some technical errors while filling ‘F’ form, for which we have been given show cause notice by the PMC and are suffering. There are shortcomings in the current law and therefore implementation is not being done in a proper way. We would be writing a formal application to the government to look into the matter.”
Not all agree
Satara-based social activist and founder of Lek Laadki Abhiyaan, Varsha Deshpande, said that the law does not require any change. “There is no need for the law to be amended. It is perfect and we will make sure that no changes are made to it. Any discrepancy in ‘F’ form is not acceptable and it has to be filled with great care. Each detail should be mentioned correctly and in case of error, it can easily be proved that the doctor has indulged in sex determination or other related illegal activities,” Deshpande said.
Dr S T Pardeshi, medical officer of health at the PMC said that the doctors and radiologists can approach the government with their demands. “If the concerned doctors and radiologists want an amendment, they can approach the government. We are helpless and follow the law. I have asked them to come forward and inform us about those who are guilty of conducting sex determination tests or female foeticide,” Pardeshi said.
The ‘F’ form
The ‘F’ form contains all information of a pregnant woman, including medical history, reasons for ultrasound, consent signature stating that the doctor has not revealed the sex of the child among other details. This form can be used to track results of pregnancy in case of untoward incidents.