Inaction weakens PC-PNDT Act in Tamil Nadu

Tamil Nadu has 91 ongoing PC-PNDT cases in the court and there have been 18 convictions so far, according to the quarterly progress report of the implementation of the Act to prevent sex selective abortions.
Inaction weakens PC-PNDT Act in Tamil Nadu
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While activists blame the State Medical Council for poor implementation of the provisions of the Pre-conception and Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques (Prohibition of Sex Selection) Act, 1994, the council says that it has limited powers. 
The Act prohibits sex selection before or after conception and has been implemented for prevention of misuse of pre-conception and pre-natal diagnostic techniques for sex determination. 
As per the quarterly progress report across the country, a total of 2,352 court cases have been filed by the District Appropriate Authorities for violating the provisions of the PC-PNDT Act. While 386 convictions have been secured under the Act, the medical licenses of 108 doctors have been suspended by the various State Medical Councils, following convictions.  
In Tamil Nadu, where there are 91 ongoing court cases and 18 have been convicted, none of the licenses has been suspended. 
Jeeva Nantham, state convenor, Campaign against Sex Selective Abortion (CASSA), said that a large section of the clinics in the state reveal the sex, but the State Medical Council hasn’t initiated necessary action. He says, “Though, there is strong evidence about how clinics flout the law, the Tamil Nadu  Medical Council hasn’t take any step that can act as  a deterrent.” 
However, the Tamil Nadu Medical Council says prolonged court cases leave them with very little scope for initiating strict action. Dr JA Jayalal, president-in charge of the State Medical Council, says, “Time and again, we have suspended several licenses, but these practitioners continue to treat patients.”  
He added that “There have been cases when the court has withheld suspension and the cases go on for years. In a case that came up for hearing recently, orders are yet to be passed by the court. Recently, we suspended the license of a doctor in Cuddalore, but he continues to treat patients.”
Dr D Mohanan, joint director, health, Tiruvallur, says that repeated raids are being conducted across the state. “Recently, we have conducted searches at clinics in Karur and Namakkal. Some clinics have also been sealed; we do not believe in harassment of practitioners. Action is taken only when there is enough proof against them.” 
Another health official from Tiruvannamalai says that even quacks receive bail for PC-PNDT Act offences.  “In August, we arrested a woman who has running an illegal scanning centre where the law was being violated. She is now out on bail. Unless tougher laws come into force, the implementation will be a huge challenge.”

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