To curb the practice of pre-natal sex determination by the "black sheep" of the medical community, the Maharashtra Medical Council (MMC) has decided to take strict action against errant doctors by garnering support from the public.
"If any individual gives a written complaint against any doctor indulging in sex selection, we will conduct an inquiry against the doctor concerned and take action under the code of medical ethics," said Dr Shivkumar Utture, a MMC member. MMC is the governing body and licensing authority for doctors in the state.
Dr Utture pointed out that the Code of Medical Ethics allows MMC to set up an inquiry based on a written complaint and initiate action against errant doctors. However, under the Pre-Conception and Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques (Prohibition of sex selection) (PCPNDT) Act it cannot take action against errant doctors on its own. It can take action only when charges are framed against a member in court. The Act provides for the MMC to suspend the doctor's license. "If the court convicts a doctor, his name can be removed from the MMC registry for up to five years. That means he cannot practice in the state for the next five years," said Dr Kishore Taori, MMC president. In case of a repeat offence, names of such doctors would be permanently removed from the MMC registry.
However, the MMC has not initiated action against a single doctor in the past 12 years.
The Indian Medical Association, the national governing body of doctors, has also decided to take errant doctors to task. "IMA's Nagpur branch will give Rs1 lakh to individuals who expose doctors or institutions performing sex determination tests," said Dr Jayesh Lele secretary, IMA, Maharashtra. "IMA will file police complains against such doctors."
He added that the IMA has launched campaigns such as 'Save the Girl Child' and 'Doctors Against Sex Selection' to fight the skewed sex ratio.
Doctors said that the government should take steps to create public awareness. "The problem has to be tackled from both the demand and supply side," said a doctor.