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Maharashtra govt mulls homicide charges for foeticide

Source: PTI
July 10, 2012 16:01 IST
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Taking serious note of female foeticide cases in the state, the Maharashtra government on Tuesday said it would seek the Centre's opinion for slapping charge of homicide on those involved in such offences.

"The suggestion of applying section 320 of IPC for forced abortions of female foetus would be sent to the Centre," Health Minister Suresh Shetty told the legislative assembly.

Replying to a debate on the calling attention notice on the issue of female foeticide, Shetty said only provisions of Pre-Conception and Pre-natal Diagnostic Techniques (PCPNDT) and Medical Termination of Pregnancy (MTP) Acts are applicable to illegal sex determination and abortion of female foetus.

To this, Nationalist Congress Party legislator Jeetendra Avhad said people do not fear this law which is why illegal abortion of female foetus was on the rise in the state.

The member also wondered why family members were not arrested under the PCPNDT and MTP acts.

The minister clarified that action has been taken against four family members so far.

"We cannot book the pregnant woman under the law unless proved that she had gone for the illegal sex determination and abortion. The family members who force her to go for the tests will be booked," Shetty said.

He also brushed aside criticism from some legislators that the government is going overboard in raiding and sealing sonography machines and medical shops selling abortion pills.

Legislators like Gopal Agarwal (Cong) said honest doctors are feeling the heat and are terrorised because they may face action because of small technical issues.

"The PCPNDT and MTP Acts will be followed in letter and spirit. Abortion pills need to be sold only on the prescription of gynaecologist," he said.

Shetty said senior advocate Ujjwal Nikam has been entrusted the task of fighting the state's case against the doctor couple from Beed, Sudam and Saraswati Munde, who are now in judicial custody on charges of female foeticide.

The Pune crime branch is probing how the duo had managed to escape the law and with whose support.

"We are committed to take this case to its logical end," he said adding that the district advisory committees will be re-constituted in a month's time.

According to the minister, 584 teams of health, revenue and police officials have been formed to check sonography centres in each district. Out of the 8,331 sonography centres, 291 have been sealed.

He said there are 4,117 MTP centres out of which action has been taken against 341 centres after inspection.

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