Two men have been arrested for carrying out sex determination tests in Pune — a city in the Indian state of Maharashtra. They were caught red-handed inside a car along with the doctors who were carrying portable machines for the test.
All of them have been booked under the Pre-Conception and Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques (PCPNDT) Act, 1994. This is the first time in India that husbands of pregnant women have been booked under the Act as earlier only doctors had to face the consequences of conducting the prenatal sex determination test, which is banned in India.
The husbands, Vilas Dange and Popat Chavan, were caught during a regular police patrol at a road in Indapur, a city and a municipal council in Pune. It was found that their wives, Sunita Vilas Dange and Balika Popat Chavan, were undergoing tests to determine the gender of their unborn children, inside the car. Dr Hanumant More and Dr Tushar Gade, the two doctors performing the test, were also held.
"We noticed that Gade (from Mhaswad, Satara) and More (from Malshiraj, Solapur), both of whom held Bachelor of Ayurveda, Medicine and Surgery (BAMS) and Bachelor of Homoeopathic Medicine and Surgery (BHMS) degrees, were performing a sonography on two women who already had female children.
"One woman confessed to having three, and the other, five daughters. They were forced by their husbands to undergo sonography, so that they do not give birth to a girl child again," Pune district civil surgeon Dr Sanjay Deshmukh told Pune Mirror.
After initial investigation, it was also revealed that the two doctors were not practising medical doctors.
"We have not only filed a police complaint regarding violation of the PCPDNT Act, but we will also be writing to the Maharashtra Medical Council (MMC) about these alternate therapy practitioners, who were posing as sonologists and cheating patients. We suspect it's a chain," Dr Eknath Chandanshive, medical superintendent of Indapur sub-district hospital, said.
He added that a case would be filed in court against the husbands. "This will be the first time that along with the doctors, husbands will also be booked under the Act as they were the ones who forced their wives to undergo the tests," Chandanshive said.
"The accused are now in Indapur police custody. They said they had bought a machine of Chinese make from an exhibition in Delhi for Rs 1.5 lakh [Rs150,000, £1,706, $2,246] and have been performing sex determination tests for the past one year or so. They charged couples between Rs 8,000 and Rs 10,000 for every sex determination test," a source told the publication.
"We think there may be many such machines being imported. We checked with these doctors. Their machine was not registered and they also lacked any centre back home. Being doctors of alternate therapy, they were not only misusing tools and acting as medical practitioners, but also cheating patients.
"The accused came looking for a safer place to conduct the test and landed up in Pune district's circle. We suspect there are many such machines in the state; we need to have a thorough investigation," Megha Sontale, advocate and legal advisory, Pune division's PCPDNT department, said.