Mumbai: Concerned about the growing cases of female foeticide in Maharashtra and the apparent failure to check the crime, the state government has sought 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.
If the Centre agrees to the proposal then doctors who carry out illegal abortions and relatives of the women who are forced to undergo such procedures can be tried for murder.
The Maharashtra government’s strong move to control the menace comes after the state’s progressive image took a beating following the recent spate of female foeticides.
In the past few months, over a hundred sonography centres were raided by the health department.
The current law bans sex-determination tests but it has been largely ineffective owing to the greed of a few medical practitioners.
Called the Pre-conception and Pre-natal Diagnostic Techniques (Prohibition of selection) Act, 1994 (referred to as the PC & PNDT Act) and it came into force with effect from February 14, 2003. As per the law, doctors and radiologists conducting, or soliciting parents for, sex determination tests can be imprisoned up to five years and fined up to Rs 50,000.
However, the conviction rate is low and the selection of male child before conception and female foeticide continue to take place.
The sex ration figures are completely skewed in many states of the country. In Maharashtra too, many districts have very skewed sex ratios with the chart being topped by Beed district, which has the lowest male-female sex ratio among children under the age of 6 at 801 female against 1,000 male children, according to the 2011 Census.
The town of Parli in Beed had hit headlines after doctor couple Dr Sudam Munde and Saraswati were arrested on charges of causing the death of a 28-year-old pregnant woman in May.
The Munde hospital run by the couple thrived on illegal abortions for more than two decades. Women came there in large numbers, even those from neighbouring states Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka.