Giving an impetus to the attempts to nail and convict those accused in sex determination and female foeticide cases, the government has decided to appoint two special assistant prosecutors in each district.
These lawyers will exclusively handle cases related to Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques (Regulation and Prevention of Misuse) Act, 1994 (PCPNDT) and Medical Termination of Pregnancy (MTP) Act.
Preference for the male child, social evils like dowry, inferior status and vulnerability of women and discrimination between the two sexes have led to female foeticides, and consequently, an unhealthy sex ratio.
"We will now have two dedicated public prosecutors in each district to handle PCPNDT cases, and that would help streamline things," health minister Suresh Shetty told dna.
Social activist Manisha Tokale of Savitribai Phule Mahila Mandal in Beed welcomed the move, and said such niche appointments would make lawyers more responsible. "The government move is welcome. However, the performance of these lawyers must be monitored," she added
By February, 481 cases were lodged in various criminal courts against those violating PCPNDT provisions, including non-maintenance of records, decoy cases and non registration of machines. Of these, 138 were decided, resulting in 54 convictions; 42 doctors were imprisoned in 38 cases and penalties were imposed in 16 cases.
Maharashtra's general sex ratio declined from 934 in 1991 to 922 in 2001, but marginally rose to 925 in 2011. In contrast, India's sex ratio increased from 927 in 1991 to 933 in 2001 and 940 in 2011.
The state's child sex ratio (ratio of girls to boys between zero and six years) has fallen from 946 in 1991 to 913 in 2001 and 883 in 2011, as against 914 in 2011, 927 in 2001 and 946 in 1991 for India.
Shockingly, the health department's estimates, considering the average expected sex ratio of 952, and the child sex ratio of 883 in the 2011 census, indicate that Maharashtra may have seen around 4,68,680 female foeticide cases between 2001 and 2011, including 30,116 in Mumbai.
However, some green shoots of change are visible. According to health department figures, the month-wise sex ratio at birth was much healthier in 2013 and 2012 than in the preceding year.
The state inspects sonography and MTP centres, which are blamed for sex determination. It also has a toll free number, 18002334475, and a web site, www.amchimulgi.gov.in to register complaints. The state has conducted 94 sting operations in this connection, of which 35 were successful.