Terming its impact in curbing sex-selective abortions in Kolhapur district "heart warming", the Bombay high court (HC), on Friday, upheld the validity of Silent Observer - an electronic device attached to ultrasound machines that helps the administration in tracking sonographies conducted in a district.
Dismissing the petition filed by the Maharashtra chapter of Indian Radiology and Imaging Association, the division bench of chief justice Mohit Shah and justice RP Sondurbaldota appreciated the role of Kolhapur district collector Laxmikant Deshmukh, who introduced the innovative device in the worst hit district in terms of the sex ratio.
According to Deshmukh, the device has helped in improving the sex ratio of the district from 839 during the 2001 census to 878 in 2010. The petition had challenged Deshmukh's decision of introducing the device in Kolhapur district in March 2010. The association moved court after the Sangali-Miraj Municipal Corporation, on January 14, 2011, made installation of the innovative device mandatory within its limits. The association argued that the collector had no authority to issue such a directive.
Apart from alleging a nexus between Deshmukh and Magnum Opus, the company which manufactures the device costing Rs 28,500, the association also apprehended that installation of the device would breach the right to privacy of the patients, as it would allow unauthorised persons to view the ultrasound images.
Deshmukh's counsel, Ashutosh Kumbhakoni, contended that the larger public interest outweighs the right to privacy of the patients.
Accepting the contention, the bench discarded the association's apprehension.
However, to prevent any misuse or breach of privacy, the court has directed that no unauthorised persons should be given access to the images, and only authorised medical officers at the tehsil and district level can view the images.