Saturday, November 3, 2012

Time to act

It is heartening to read about the recent directive of High Court to the Maharashtra Medical Council to suspend the registration of doctors against whom charges have been filed. It  is yet another positive development in our fight against pre-birth sex selection.

We at Population First believe that majority of doctors may not be actively involved in sex determination but it is their silence which puts the whole profession under suspicion, often calling for drastic measures that may abridge the freedom of all doctors.  If MCI, the State Medical Councils,  FOGSI and IMA were proactive in exerting pressure on their fellow professionals who were  misusing the pre-natal diagnostic techniques for sex determination, I am sure the sex ratios would not have come down so drastically. Instead the professional regulatory bodies refused to take action citing violations of the PCPNDT act as minor oversights rather than blatant disregard for the law.

Not displaying the board regarding the crime of pre-birth sex selection and the registration certificate, not having a copy of the PCPNDT act, and not filling the F Form are all violations which are as serious as disclosing the sex of the foetus under the Act. The courts as well as the monitoring Appropriate Authorities also often considered these as minor offenses letting out the violators with a fine. This had grossly undermined the law.

The MMC, FOGSI and Radiologists Associations refused to suspend or cancel the registration of the doctors even when the courts have convicted the doctors. They insist that an internal inquiry should prove them to be guilty to initiate action which challenges the very judicial process. Often the culprits go for an appeal in higher courts and continue to practice with cases pending in the court. It is often argued by the regulatory bodies that corrupt government officials and NGOs file cases to  harass and blackmail doctors, therefore an internal inquiry is needed to initiate any action.

In the light of this, it is heartening to note that judiciary in Maharashtra is taking up the issue more seriously and had convicted a  number of doctors even for the so called "minor offenses" often refusing bail to them. It has issued directives to the Government, Appropriate Authorities and now to the regulatory bodies to get into action and do their jobs well.

The laudable efforts of the judiciary should be supported by all who believe that discrimination based on gender is the worst form of discrimination, that does not  reflect well on a society that aspires to be one of world's super power.