While Maharashtra is struggling with a sex ratio of 925 females against 1,000 males, the innovative software that has helped Kolhapur district — which is the worst hit — curb the menace of sex-selective abortions has come under the Bombay high court scanner.
The Maharashtra chapter of the Indian Radiological and Imaging Association moved the high court challenging Kolhapur district collector Laxmikant Deshmukh’s decision to make it mandatory to install the software, called silent observer, with every sonography of ultrasound machine.
On March 10, 2010, Deshmukh issued a directive to all sonologists and radiologists to install the software, which costs Rs28,500, that helps keep a track of every sonography conducted on a pregnant woman. Deshmukh claimed it was not a directive but an appeal to the medical fraternity seeking help to curb sex-selective abortions.
The software, according to Deshmukh’s affidavit in response to the petition, has helped curb the menace of under-reporting sonographies conducted on pregnant women, and the subsequent illegal sex-selective abortions.
Deshmukh claimed that the software has helped improve its sex ratio from 839 female per 1,000 males (according to 2001 census) to 878 female per 1,000 males.
The Jalna-based association moved the high court after Sangli-Miraj Municipal Corporation also made it mandatory to install the software on January 14, this year.
The association said the directives were against the provisions of the Pre-Conception and Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques (Prohibition of Sex Selection) Act, 2003. It said the collector had no authority to make the installation of the software mandatory, because it was neither statutorily mandated nor approved by the state.
hey also alleged that there was a nexus between the collector and the company, Magnum Opus, which manufactures the software. Deshmukh denied a nexus with the company.
During first three months of installing the software in Kolhapur district, the registration of 20 sonologists /radiologists were suspended for breaches and prosecution has been initiated against four others.