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HC quashes case against two doctors under PCPNDT Act

The Bombay High Court has quashed a case against two doctors in Pune under the Pre-Conception and Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques (Prohibition of Sex Selection) Act (PCPNDT), saying subjecting them to unnecessary criminal prosecution is nothing but an abuse of the process of the law.

Justice Anuja Prabhudessai recently quashed and set aside the criminal case registered against Rajender Sujanyal, a gynaecologist who runs a hospital in Pimpri, and Shripad Inamdar, a radiologist who visits the hospital to conduct sonography on pregnant women.

In June 2012, an officer of the Pimpri Chinchwad Municipal Corporation visited the hospital to check if provisions of the PCPNDT Act were being followed. After a month, a medical officer sealed the ultra-sound machine in the hospital claiming violations in maintenance of Form ‘F’ which is filled and signed by the sonologist before a sonography is done on a pregnant woman.

According to the medical officer, the forms are supposed to be signed by the sonologist himself but in this case it was signed by the gynaecologist.

The petitioners contended that the hand-written forms are signed by sonologist but the computer generated forms are printed with Sujanyal’s signature as he is the head of the hospital. They argued that the discrepancies and deficiencies alleged in the complaint do not constitute an offence under the Act.

The high court after hearing the case observed that the authority has not been able to point out any provision under the Act which stipulates that the computer printout of the Form ‘F’ are required to be signed by the radiologist and that omission of this signature is in breach of the Act.

“Under such circumstances sealing of the sonography machine and subjecting the petitioners to unnecessary criminal prosecution is nothing but an abuse of the process of the law,” the court said.

“The PCPNDT Act, which has been enacted with an avowed object of preventing female foeticide, confers wide powers of the appropriate authority to ensure that the diagnostic techniques are not misused for sex selection,” it said.

“Needless to state that the object of the Act can be achieved only when the powers under the Act are exercised judiciously with due application of mind and in accordance with law. Whereas mechanical, casual or arbitrary exercise of powers or misuse of powers by the authority can defeat the very object of the Act,” Justice Prabhudessai said.

The court noted that in the present case, the medical officer exercised his powers in a very “cursory manner” without paying heed to the explanation given by the doctors.

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