IRIA submits proposed changes to PC-PNDT Act
Last date to send suggestions to the amendments to the PC-PNDT Act is 21st March, 2016. Please send your suggestions before to firstname.lastname@example.org
New Delhi: With the government inviting suggestions and proposed amendments to the PC-PNDT Act to ensure its better implementation in curbing the menace of female foeticide, doctors are coming in large numbers suggesting changes to the Act
IRIA, Indian Radiological and Imaging Association, the association of more than 10,000 radiologists in the country, has also written to the concerned authorities raising the issue of PC-PNDT Act becoming a tool at the hand of authorities to harass innocent doctors and highlighting how doctors are unnecessarily prosecuted for "Clerical Errors" in the filling up of forms. Another issue raised by the organisation pertains to bringing the consumer/patient under the Ambit of the act so that penalties and prosecution may be possible against the one, who gets act of sex-determination going in the first place.
In a letter written to Mr Rakesh Kumar, Joint Secy, PNDT, MOHFW, Dr OP Bansal, President IRIA proposed the following changes:-
- In the Section 23(1) of the PC & PNDT Act, which deals with the penalties leading to offences, the amendment should include the word patient, so as to bring the patient herself under the ambit of the PC & PNDT Act. The reasons for the same are that the violation involves two parties one the Medical Profession and the other is the patient/consumer herself. It is strongly believed that till the consumer is not made party to the crime of this violation under the PC & PNDT Act, she/he as interested party shall always find a gullible professional to do this heinous crime for a price.
2. In the amendment to Section 31, it is submitted that the NGO should not be given immunity against action done in good faith as this clause is likely to be misused by NGO's as they have malafide intention of becoming popular and make money for their NGO.
3. These four points can be added to Section 25 for monetary fine without criminal prosecution:
(i) Not wearing an apron with name plate.
(ii) Not keeping a booklet.
(iii) Non-display of board.
(iv) Minor errors in record keeping.
By having point (iv) under section 25, a legal window is opened up for the doctor to defend himself in case of harassment, and, at the same time, it keeps the weapon of form F with the Govt. In case they want to use it against those actually involved in the crime of sex determination.
4. Record maintenance errors cannot be equated by any civil society to the criminal offence like sex-determination and hence the punishment cannot be equal. Paperwork errors are rectifiable and the doctor must be given an opportunity to rectify them within a said time-frame. This is the main reason why thousands of innocent, law-abiding doctors all over inida are being harassed and are facing criminal cases (99% cases are field only on the basic of record maintenance) This is no way (like sting operations) can catch the real culprits indulging into sex determination.
When the prime-minister is advocating digital india campaign, the record maintenance should be done compulsorily online only including submission of monthly reports.
5. The present from f is extremely lengthy because of many unnecessary sections in it, not relevant at all to sex determination. It should only serve the purpose of obtaining vital information about the patient so that he/she can be traced later. Converting highly educated medical professional into qualified clerks is nothing but waste of time and energy for the nation.
6.Sealing of machine, suspension of registration and debarring from Medical Council list should be done only after the offense of 'sex-determination is proved in the court of law and the doctor is convicted. Doing all these things before conviction is against the natural principle of justice and his basic right of livelihood given by the constitution.
7. Also the suspension of registration of a doctor under section 23(2) of PC & PNDT act is unconstitutional because of the following reasons:-
(a) Article 21 of the Constitution of India provides that, “No person shall be deprived of his life or personal liberty except according to procedure established by law.” There is no provision within the powers of any State Medical Council (SMC) or Medical Council of India (MCI) to penalise a doctor unless it is merely on the framing of charges, without the charges having been proved and without the accused having been convicted. To do so is against the basic principles of law. Hence, it is outside the powers of SMCs or MCI to suspend the registration of a doctor merely on the basis of framing of charges. Even in case of conviction, it is quite possible that a doctor convicted by a trial court may be acquitted by the appellate court, and hence suspension of license in the interim period will do irreparable damage to the social reputation and personal finances of the doctor, which again is blatantly unconstitutional
(b) Section 23(2) of PCPNDT act directing a medical council to suspend the registration of a doctor merely upon framing of charges by a court amounts to unwarranted interference with the independent functioning of the medical council. Medical councils already have their procedures in place to take action against doctors involved in malpractices and unethical acts, and there is no non-obstante clause in the PC & PNDT act which can enable it to alter the procedures laid down by medical councils.
(c) Article 20(2) of the Constitution of India states that "No person shall be prosecuted and punished for the same offence more than once." Simultaneously penalising a doctor by prosecuting under PC & PNDT Act and also suspending his registration with SMC appears violative of article 20(2) of Constitution of India.