Though the Health Ministry recently put Rajasthan on top of the female foeticide list, the State Medial Council has gone ahead and lifted the ban on 30 doctors caught on camera violating the Medical Termination of Pregnancy (MTP) Act and Pre-Conception and Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques (Regulation and Prevention of Misuse) Act, 1994. The decision has come in for sharp criticism from various social organisations.
Following the sting operation by a local TV channel in May 2006 and a police probe, the government had filed criminal complaints against the doctors.
Defending the council’s decision, its president Dr S.P. Yadav said: “We punished the doctors for professional misconduct, which carries a maximum six-month ban on medical practice.”
Professor Pawan Surana, ex-chairperson of the state women’s commission, said: “I can’t understand the logic of the council in exonerating these doctors. This will surely encourage offenders in future.” Former high court judge Pana Chand Jain said: “The council has lifted the ban after a mild warning to the doctors. This is unjustified. It ought to have let the ban hold till the courts give their verdict in the case.”
Former state health minister Rajendra Singh Chaudhry said: “The medical council should have severely punished these doctors who indulged in female foeticide and violated the PC & PNDT Act.” Chaudhry said he felt it was wrong of the council to show leniency to the offenders by quoting the rules, which can be amended, provided there is commitment to take on such doctors.
Though female foeticide is a raging problem in the state, convictions are few and far in between. The conviction of two persons by a fast track court in Bharatpur in June this year was an exception. But with the two sentenced to just two years in jail and fined Rs 500-1000, this will hardly prove a deterrent to others.