The Bombay high court's decision upholding the implementation of Silent Observer, a device that keeps a record of sonography tests, in Kolhapur district will allow other districts to implement the same technique to curb sex selective abortions, doctors and activists said.
"We are satisfied that our efforts have been deemed legal," said Laxmikant Deshmukh, collector Kolhapur, whose move to install silent observers was challeneged by radiologists.
"Since the high court has allowed it, it will set a precedent for other districts."
Welcoming the high court ruling health minister Suresh Shetty said, "We have taken fierce steps to tackle female foeticide and we are glad it is being recognised."
"The government is still studying if and how the 'silent observer' model can be implemented everywhere," added Shetty. The child sex ratios in Maharashtra and Mumbai are below the national ration 914 girls per 1000 boys.
Sonography clinics do not maintain comprehensive records, said Dr Amar Jasani, editor of the Medical Journal of Ethics, "Records are part of quality medical care and if radiologists have nothing to hide then they should accept this move."
Girish Lad, whose Kolhapur-based IT firm devised the silent observer, said the high court decision was a huge relief as it had rejected the opposing doctors reasons for opposing the monitoring device.
However, some activists feel technical efforts will only have marginal impact.
"Unless there is political will and stern action against errant doctors it will not change the situation," said Chayanika Shah, member of Forum Against Sex Determination and Sex Pre-Selection Selection.
"People have to actually stop going for these tests and the doctors have to refuse such people. The onus is on doctors. After all putting an end to this menace is our responsibility."