Gender Justice – Despite skewed sex ratio, conviction under PCPNDT Act rare


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Despite India’s declining child sex ratio, as many as 30 states and union territories have not convicted even a single person for pre-conception and pre-natal diagnostic between 2011 and 2013, raising concerns about the poor implementation of the PCPNDT Act.

The five states which have worst child sex ratio (CSR) – Daman and Diu (618 girls per 1,000 boys), Dadra and Nagar Haveli (775), Chandigarh (818), Delhi (866) and Andaman and Nicobar Islands (878) – have also not punished anyone during the period.

The Pre-Conception and Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques (PCPNDT) Act, 1994 was enacted to stop female foeticide and arrest the declining sex ratio by banning pre-natal sex determination.

Child sex ratio in India has reached an alarming low with 918 girls per 1,000 boys in 2011 from 927 in 2001, but not much seems to have been done to ensure strict implementation of the Act to deter female foeticide.

According to data available with the Health Ministry, only 32 people have been punished in the whole country as against 563 cases reported for conducting sex determination tests between 2011 and 2013.

The data shows that only four states convicted 13 people in 2013.

In 2012, eight persons were punished by three states and in 2011, 11 people by four states.

Punjab, which has one of the lowest CSR with 895 girls to 1,000 boys, has convicted only two persons in the period while it reported 52 such cases.

Haryana with 879 CSR registered 54 cases under the Act but no conviction took place.

Similarly, Delhi registered 10 cases but could not manage to punish anyone.

The phenomenon has spread to areas which were not known for disparity in CSR including tribal areas and eastern states, said a Women and Child Development Ministry official.

The trend was particularly acute in more developed areas of the country including metropolitan cities.

Non-implementation of the Act has been the biggest failing of the campaign against sex selection, the officialsaid.

http://www.business-standard.com/article/pti-stories/despite-skewed-sex-ratio-conviction-for-female-foeticide-rare-115051000106_1.html

Pune – No PCPNDT cell for 3 years


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Body finally established in May this year; experts rue authorities’ lax attitude

It turns out that for the last three years, several errant doctors conducting illegal sex determination tests and violating the Pre-Conception and Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques (PCPNDT) Act have quietly been rejoicing here, thanks to Pune Municipal Corporation’s (PMC) mandatory PCPNDT cell lying defunct.

The civic body’s apathy and lax attitude towards starting a PCPNDT cell for all these years — a compulsory process according to government norms, which state that every corporation must have such a cell with a team of 30 — has made sure that no such body existed in Pune.

In fact, not only has PMC’s health department failed to conduct raids on sonography centres in all these years to check whether rules are being violated, it has also failed to initiate bringing a team together to restart a previously established cell, which was out of operation.

Slightly hearteningly, however, PMC finally established the cell on May 21 this year, headed by assistant medical officer Dr Vaishali Jadhav. She told Mirror, “We were unable to conduct raids and visits because the team was not formed and the charge was handed over to me only in May. We need at least 30 people — four should be medical officers and at least two advocates. Though posts have been sanctioned, I am yet to find staff. Necessity is huge, but we lack manpower. However, I managed to file nine cases against sonography centres, a majority of which were linked to advertising their services.”

The dissolute state of affairs had been discovered by Varsha Deshpande, a member of the national inspection monitoring committee of the PCPNDT Act. She told Mirror, “It is not only PMC, but also civic bodies in Kolhapur, Nagpur, Amravati and Aurangabad that have similar issues.”

She added, “In a statewide inspection late last year, it was found that not only Pune, but also a few other cells were lying defunct and needed revival. Both the health chief and commissioner are responsible for the failure — they did not make any effort to put together a team and find miscreants to bring down sex determination and curb rampant malpractices. This has given way to corruption and made it easy for sonography centres and doctors to conduct illegal tests. The urban development secretary is equally responsible — s/ he should be keeping a close eye on all municipal commissioners.”

Manisha Mhaiskar, principal secretary of the state urban development department, countered, “We have instructed all corporations and commissioners to abide by the law, which mentions that every corporation should have its individual PCPNDT cell. If this is not happening, it is a violation of the law and they are answerable for it.”

Dr S T Pardeshi, chief of health at PMC, refuted claims of carelessness entirely, saying, “All our medical officers at the ward level have been vigilant and watchful of all such cases.”

Municipal commissioner Kunal Kumar said, “It was brought to my notice only recently that the cell has not been functional for the last few years. Now, we are planning to revive it; strict action will be taken against the doctors found violating norms.” Asked if no clarifications would be sought from the health chief for the lack of such cases being brought to the fore for three long years, Kumar responded, “Yes, we will be doing the needful.”

WhatsApp message to Delhi health minister helps bust illegal sex determination racket


Delhi’s health minister Satyendra Jain received a WhatsApp message tip-off informing about illegal sex determination tests being carried out in a private city hospital on Friday. This message prompted the authorities into action. A team of the health department officials were dispatched to check the hospital right after health minister received a message that the tests were being carried out in the reputed Kukreja Hospital in Rajouri Garden.

Delhi’s health minister Satyendra Jainreceived a WhatsApp message tip-off informing about illegal sex determination tests being carried out in a private city hospital on Friday. This message prompted the authorities into action. A team of the health department officials were dispatched to check the hospital right after health minister received a message that the tests were being carried out in the reputed Kukreja Hospital in Rajouri Garden.

The city administration directed suspension of license of the private hospital and sealed two ultrasound machines, after it was found that the hospital was carrying illegal sex determination tests.

A five-member team inspected the records of Kukreja Hospital in presence of the SDM and found that records were not maintained properly. It was found during checking that mandatory sections of Forms F, which are required to be filled under the Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques Regulation and Prevention of Misuse Act, before conducting tests of pregnant women, were left blank. “Even the names of doctors who referred patients for getting ultra sounds were found missing from the forms,” said the official.

The team which conducted the check has submitted its report to the health minister, who has directed the authorities to initiate action against the hospital, including suspension of its licence and imposition of a hefty fine under the relevant provisions of the PNDT Act.

“Minister has also directed the officials of the health ministry to intensify surprise checks across the national capital and crack down on hospitals, nursing homes and laboratories, which are carrying out such illegal activities,” Nagender Sharma, government spokesperson.

http://www.dnaindia.com/india/report-whatsapp-message-to-delhi-health-minister-helps-bust-illegal-sex-determination-racket-2084400

India – conviction for sex selection rare #PCPNDT


 Despite India’s declining child sex ratio, as many as 30 states and union territories have not convicted even a single person for pre-conception and pre-natal diagnostic between 2011 and 2013, raising concerns about the poor implementation of the PCPNDT Act.

 Despite India’s declining child sex ratio, as many as 30 states and union territories have not convicted even a single person for pre-conception and pre-natal diagnostic between 2011 and 2013, raising concerns about the poor implementation of the PCPNDT Act.

The five states which have worst child sex ratio (CSR) – Daman and Diu (618 girls per 1,000 boys), Dadra and Nagar Haveli (775), Chandigarh (818), Delhi (866) and Andaman and Nicobar Islands (878) – have also not punished anyone during the period. The Pre-Conception and Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques (PCPNDT) Act, 1994 was enacted to stop  sex selection  and arrest the declining sex ratio by banning pre-natal sex determination.

Child sex ratio in India has reached an alarming low with 918 girls per 1,000 boys in 2011 from 927 in 2001, but not much seems to have been done to ensure strict implementation of the Act to deter female foeticide. According to data available with the Health Ministry, only 32 people have been punished in the whole country as against 563 cases reported for conducting sex determination tests between 2011 and 2013.
The data shows that only four states convicted 13 people in 2013. In 2012, eight persons were punished by three states and in 2011, 11 people by four states.

Punjab, which has one of the lowest CSR with 895 girls to 1,000 boys, has convicted only two persons in the period while it reported 52 such cases. Haryana with 879 CSR registered 54 cases under the Act but no conviction took place. Similarly, Delhi registered 10 cases but could not manage to punish anyone.

The phenomenon has spread to areas which were not known for disparity in CSR including tribal areas and eastern states, said a Women and Child Development Ministryofficial. The trend was particularly acute in more developed areas of the country including metropolitan cities. Non-implementation of the Act has been the biggest failing of the campaign against sex selection, the official said.

http://www.dnaindia.com/india/report-despite-skewed-sex-ratio-conviction-for-female-foeticide-rare-2084648

Activists glare at Maharashtra government’s plan to amend PCPNDT to allow for lighter penalty


Saturday, 23 May 2015
The proposal will be discussed before the state-level committee and finally sent to the Centre for necessary amendments. The official added that, however, there were no plans to change stringent punishments for serious offences like sex determination and female foeticide.

The state government is planning to amend stringent legal provisions in the Pre-Conception and Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques (PCPNDT) Act to let off doctorsaccused of “minor” procedural errors with lighter punishments.

However, this is being opposed by activists who charge that this proposed “graded punishments” system is meant to spare unscrupulous doctors involved in sex determination and sex selection

“We are looking at modifying the Act to impose moderate punishments on doctors involved in minor clerical offences… if they are not involved in sex determination and female foeticide and have committed only procedural lapses, a mild penalty may be imposed,” said a senior health department official, hastening to add that this was still at the preliminary stage.

The proposal will be discussed before the state-level committee and finally sent to the Centre for necessary amendments. The official added that, however, there were no plans to change stringent punishments for serious offences like sex determination and female foeticide.

He said sometimes doctors commit mistakes due to heavy workload including errors in form F (details of pregnant woman and investigations conducted), not appending signatures, omitting a clause and not putting up a board stating that sex-determination tests were not being conducted.

The state is examining if these doctors can be let off after seeking a clarification and a subsequent reprimand instead of action extending to their ultrasound machines being sealed.

“We are seeking to make it watertight to ensure that the guilty do not benefit,” the official said, adding it was “impossible” for crimes like female foeticide and gender determination to occur without connivance of doctors.

“Graded punishments are meant to save doctors involved in these malpractices,” charged activist Varsha Deshpande of the Lek Ladki Abhiyaan, adding that it was incorrect to differentiate between minor and major offences under the Act.

She pointed out that the conviction rate under the PCPNDT Act was over 30% – much more than in dowry, rape and molestation cases – which had caused panic and led to these demands.

Health minister Dr Deepak Sawant could not be contacted despite repeated attempts.

Dr Kishor Taori of the Maharashtra Medical Council (MMC) welcomed the proposed move and added that at times, genuine medical practitioners were harassed for minor lapses.

Maharashtra’s general sex ratio declined from 934 in 1991 to 922 in 2001 but marginally rose to 925 in 2011. In contrast, India’s sex ratio has increased from 927 in 1991 to 933 in 2011 and 940 in 2011. The state’s child sex ratio (ratio of girls to boys between zero to six years) has fallen from 946 in 1991 to 913 in 2001 and 883 in 2011 as against 914 in 2011, 927 in 2001 and 946 in 1991 for India.

The PCPNDT Act aims at preventing the misuse of pre-natal sex determination techniques for sex determination leading to female foeticide. It punishes errant medical professionals with imprisonment up to three years and a fine which may extend to Rs10,000 and subsequent conviction may see up to five-year imprisonment and a fine of up to Rs 50,000.

A total of 530 court cases are lodged in various courts against PCPNDT violators, and of these, 206 cases are decided in which 82 doctors and five relatives have been convicted in 73 cases. In 57 cases, 66 doctors have been sentenced to imprisonment and penalty imposed in 16 cases.

Shockingly, the health department’s estimates, considering the average expected sex ratio of 952 and the child sex ratio of 883 in the 2011 census, indicate that Maharashtra may have seen around 4,68,680 female foeticide cases between 2001 and 2011, including 30,116 in Mumbai.

http://www.dnaindia.com/mumbai/report-activists-glare-at-maharashtra-government-s-plan-to-amend-pcpndt-to-allow-for-lighter-penalty-2088278

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