In Mumbai, the civic Family Planning Department keeps tabs on pre-natal sex determination tests in public and private hospitals. There are 25 authorities in the city that cover 24 wards.
As per the Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques Act, all sonography centres — Mumbai has about 1,450 — must be registered. Dr Asha Advani, special civic officer, women and child welfare, spoke to Hindustan Times.
What are the difficulties faced in curbing pre-natal sex determination?
It’s very difficult to prove such cases in court. Collecting evidence is a major problem as in most cases there is a nexus between the doctor and the couple. We send decoy couples to doctors under the cloud of suspicion, but so far we have not succeeded.
In how many cases did the doctor walk free due to lack of evidence?
I can’t give numbers off-hand. However, the recent case in which doctors were convicted was successful because they had advertised their ‘services’. There are two such cases pending in court. Also, we take the matter to court only in cases of serious allegations, like when the irregularity goes up to the extent of disclosing the sex of the foetus.
What are the smaller irregularities and how are they handled?
Cases where sonography machines are not registered or when doctors don’t have the special forms to be mandatorily filled by both the doctor and the parents saying they would not opt for such a test. We handle these on our own. In the past two years, we have registered 90 cases in which either the machines were sealed or the doctors were fined.
Has the law helped?
Yes, we have been successful in curbing the problem to a large extent; the results are likely to show in the next census. But I want more stringent punishment and immediate action against doctors who indulge in such practices.