Delhi High Court grants patients and radiologists relief from Gazette Notification on PNDT Act
The Gazette Notification of 04 June 2012 issued by the Government of India has been stayed by a double-judge bench of the hon’ble Delhi High Court, announced Padma Shri Dr Harsh Mahajan, National President, Indian Radiological and Imaging Association (IRIA). The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare’s Gazette Notification restricted radiologists/ sonologists from visiting no more than two clinics within a district to perform ultrasound and made it mandatory to specify their consulting hours at each clinic. Disproving the Government stand based upon the low female-male sex ratio inIndia, IRIA convinced the learned judges that the new notification would adversely affectIndia’s healthcare delivery system as well as poor patients the most.
Clarifying the issue, Dr Harsh Mahajan said, “The IRIA made it extremely clear that its members were equally concerned about the scourge of sex-selective abortions. Unfortunately, the measures taken by the Government being misdirected, they would in no way help arrest the declining sex ratio. Instead, these steps would lead to the denial of ultrasound facilities to the general public for diagnosing numerous diseases that had nothing to do with pregnancy ultrasound. IRIA also highlighted that pregnancy ultrasound comprises only about 2–5 per cent of all ultrasounds radiologists perform, but the notification would unfairly impact other tests too.”
Some salient points of the judgment:
- The restriction on an ultra-sonologist practising only at two places in a district has been stayed, allowing them to practice in as many places as before. The IRIA has, however, advised all its members who have changed their place of working since the law came into force, but did not get their names deleted from the other places, to do so quickly. This is to avoid the impression that sonologists are practising in more places than they actually do.
- The restriction to practice only during specified hours has also been stayed. Although sonologists will need to specify their working hours at each centre, they may perform ultrasound at any time in case of exigency. ‘Exigency’, in this context, is a very wide-ranging word covering all situations.
- The restriction on sonologists and the centres intimating any change in sonologists 30 days in advance has also been stayed. A sonologist can join a new centre and inform the Appropriate Authority within seven days – earlier, this was 30 days. This time frame is reasonable and no advance information is needed, nor do sonologists have to wait till their name is incorporated on the certificate before practising.
- The restriction on changing/shifting/installing a new machine only after informing the Appropriate Authority 30 days in advance and the change being duly incorporated in the certificate has been stayed. Now centres only need to inform seven days in advance, shift the machine and begin work on it after seven days, even though the change may not be incorporated in the certificate.
Elaborating the IRIA’s stand, Dr Jignesh Thakker, Secretary General, IRIA, said, “As responsible, law-abiding members of society, IRIA will engage with the Government and other interested stakeholders to rid our great nation of secretive sex determination tests and sex-selective abortions. IRIA will extend all cooperation to the Government to catch the actual culprits who perpetrate this heinous crime.” The next hearing will be held in September.