The way forward
After the hue and cry raised by the PCPNDT judgment of the honourable Supreme Court the matter is now crystal clear in that there is no relief for doctors from the draconian PCPNDT Act. Our honorable courts have been swayed by the deliberate propaganda that reversal of deplorable sex ratio depends on the number of doctors prosecuted and ultrasound machines seized. The ground reality which is crystal clear to the doctors themselves has eluded those who sit in the ivory towers dispensing their version of justice. Also the principle of law whereby a person is presumed innocent unless proven guilty is flouted with impunity under this Act and unfortunately the Supreme Court has held it as valid and legal. It is a different matter that when the Chief Justice of India is accused of a crime he is not suspended , his office not sealed and in fact he sits on the bench to hear his own case when the case was first heard.
However that said and done are the doctors not at fault ? They are certainly at fault. Why are radiologists and obstetricians continuing to do obstetric ultrasound which is such a high risk procedure for peanuts. They charge low rates hence they have to work harder, are busy , do not have time and hence consider the filling of form F as a unnecessary clerical halter around their neck. Where is the need to do 50 ultrasounds per day charging 500-800 per ultrasound. A surgeon charges differently for doing a biopsy of a breast lump vs doing a coronary artery bypass graft because of the time and risk differential between the two surgeries. Why can the radiologists not charge 4500-5000 for every ultrasound in a female patient. There cannot be different rates for obstetric and non obstetric ultrasound because then situations will arise where a lady needing ultrasound for abdominal pain will create a fuss if asked to pay more because pregnancy is revealed. Charging more will result in less number of patients hence more time to fill the mandatory Form F.
Doing ultrasound in men for Rs 500-800 and for Rs 4500 in women is likely to cause a PIL tomorrow from the NGO lobby which will be the hardest hit if the raids organized by them in association with Government officials stop yielding their desired results. Their funding will be effected adversely if the number of doctors trapped for “clerical” errors falls. Hence though different rates for ultrasound in men and women will send a loud message against PCPNDT Act it may be struck down as unconstitutional by some court at a later date. The desire to prosecute doctors using PCPNDT as a tool is overwhelmingly more than wanting to reverse the abyssimal sex ratio. The desire for male child in the public is so prevalent that any number of doctors arrested will not stop female feticide or female infanticide. But then to change the desire for male child among the people is hard task for any Government or courts. It is much easier to incarcerate doctors and do the tarzan like chest thumping and back slapping on the world stage.
Besides becoming a doctor and getting married I have done many other mistakes in my life. But one act of mine done nearly 20 years ago was definitely not a mistake and I am proud of my own wisdom and farsightedness. I had sold my ultrasound machine and gave up doing ultrasounds once PCPNDT Act became notified in UT of Chandigarh. Maybe time has come for others to follow suit. Meanwhile for those in Chandigarh I plan to start a business venture “Form F Services Pvt Ltd” where we will provide form “F” filling services for a price. Before ultrasound Send your patients to us , we will fill the form “F” s and then send the patient to you for the ultrasound. I plan to charge a nominal 3000 per patient and the ultrasonologists can then continue doing their ultrasounds for the 500-800 Rs they are happy with. Our advocates will whet each case thoroughly take notarized affidavits attested by tehsildars if needed and will assume full responsibility in case any lacuna is detected.
Dr Neeraj Nagpal
Convenor,Medicos Legal Action Group, Managing Director MLAG Indemnity,
Ex President IMA Chandigarh
Director Hope Gastrointestinal Diagnostic Clinic,
1184, Sector 21 B Chandigarh
09316517176 , 9814013735
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