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HC no to quashing FIR in abortion case

IN A significant decision, the Allahabad High Court has declined to quash the FIR or to stay the arrest of Dr Varsha Gautam, who was shown in a sting operation on Rashtriya Sahara television channel as having agreed to abort a woman who claimed to be carrying a female foetus. An FIR was lodged against Dr Gautam by CMO Agra on April 11, 2006 under section 312 (causing miscarriage) and section 311 (attempt to commit offence) of the Indian Penal Code and Pre-natal Diagnostic Techniques (Prohibition of Sex Selection) Act, 1994 (PNDT Act) at police station Hari Parwat district Agra.

india Updated: Jun 01, 2006 00:04 IST

IN A significant decision, the Allahabad High Court has declined to quash the FIR or to stay the arrest of Dr Varsha Gautam, who was shown in a sting operation on Rashtriya Sahara television channel as having agreed to abort a woman who claimed to be carrying a female foetus.

An FIR was lodged against Dr Gautam by CMO Agra on April 11, 2006 under section 312 (causing miscarriage) and section 311 (attempt to commit offence) of the Indian Penal Code and Pre-natal Diagnostic Techniques (Prohibition of Sex Selection) Act, 1994 (PNDT Act) at police station Hari Parwat district Agra.

Dismissing the writ petition (no-5086 of 2006) filed by Dr Varsha Gautam, a division bench comprising Justice Imtiyaz Murtaza and Justice Amar Saran observed, “The PNDT Act aims to check the malpractice of aborting female foetuses which had resulted in a social catastrophe as the female-male ratio had declined to 933 per 1000, with the attendant evils such as villages without brides and single brides from outside having to serve several brothers.

Earlier, murders of girl child were performed in limited numbers, but with the growth of the covert modern technology, which has made identification and elimination of female foetus simple, the phenomenon has become widespread.

The Act seeks to check these grave discriminatory practices’.”

The court said prima facie agreeing to conduct an operation constituted an offence under the PNDT Act.

Rejecting the plea under section 28 of the PNDT Act, the court could only take cognisance on a complaint by appropriate authority. The court said this section did not apply to the stage of investigation, but was a restriction on the powers of the court to take cognisance of an offence.

Quoting a Supreme Court’s case in the case of CEHAT and others Vs Union of India (AIR 2003 SC 3309), the court said keeping in view the laxity in implementation of this Act, the Supreme Court in this case had called for effective implementation of the Act and for complying with its earlier order.

Centre/State Governments and Union Territories were further directed to issue advertisements to create awareness in public that there should not be any discrimination between male and female child. The reports of appropriate authorities were to be published annually for information of public.

The National Monitoring and Inspection Committee was to continue to function till the PNDT Act was effectively implemented. Certain States were directed to appoint State Supervisory Boards and multi-membered appropriate authorities.”

First Published: Jun 01, 2006 00:04 IST