The Bombay High Court has ruled that the president of a trust operating a hospital, equipped with a sonography facility, must be responsible for any irregularities or inaccurancies in the records required to be maintained under the law prohibiting pre-natal sex discernment tests, even if s/he has no medical background or has not passed class 10.
Judge AIS Cheema of the Aurangabad bench of the high court stated this while dismissing a petition by Zaheda Sayyed, 41, who sought quashing of a complaint registered against her in June 2011, for not maintaining proper records as required under the Pre-Conception and Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques (Prohibition of Sex Selection) (PCPNDT) Act.
The complaint was that there were discrepancies in the records, particularly Form 'F', at Sayyed's institution. The form did not have the signature of the pregnant woman declaring that sex determination was not carried out during the sonography.
Sayyed approached the high court after a similar application was dismissed by the sessions court at Ambajogai.
Advocate BR Kedar argued that Sayyed was not concerned with the sonography as she was not a medical person and did not have the competency to operate the machine and maintain the records. Also, the sonography center had since been closed.
He stated that a qualified radiologist, one Dr Dama, had been appointed to manage the sonography centre, so Sayyed could not be held responsible for what Dr Dama did not do.
Public prosecutor SV Kurundkar opposed the petition stating that according to the complaint lodged against Sayyed, she was examining pregnant ladies using the sonography machine.
Also, in response to a notice that was sent to her, Sayyed had replied that the Form F which was not filled in properly would henceforward be completed and submitted. This was an admission of deficiency by Sayyed, he stated.
Kurundkar pointed out that section 23 of the PCPNDT Act holds any person, who owns a genetic counselling centre, genetic lab or clinic, contravening the law applicable, liable for punishment and therefore the excuse of not having a medical background was unacceptable.
Judge Cheema noted that whether the offence was committed without Sayyed's knowledge would be a matter to be decided in the trial.
"It is apparent that if the lapse is insignificant, the benefit would go to the accused at the time of sentence. But claiming that deficiencies in Form 'F' and maintaining records were insignificant, cannot be reason to argue that there was no offence and seek that the accused be discharged," the judge said.