In a significant order, the Bombay high court has ruled that inaccuracies and irregularities in maintenance of records and forms as mandated under the Pre-Conception and Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques (Prohibition of Sex Selection) (PCPNDT) Act amounts to offence.
Justice AIS Cheema of the Aurangabad bench of the HC refused to quash a complaint filed against one Dr Dattatray Kanade, who was accused of not maintaining records and forms properly in 2007.
The complaint against Kanade, who owns Kanade Maternity Home in Ahmednagar, alleged that there were various discrepancies in the maintenance of hospital records and Form F, which is filled by the hospital, along with the signature of the pregnant woman, stating that sex determination of the foetus was not carried out during sonography.
Kanade’s counsel RS Shinde argued that there can’t be an offence under the Act as there were only irregularities and not illegalities.
However, the judge observed that even deficiencies and inaccuracies in the maintenance of records and Form F attract criminal charges under the Act. Justice Cheema further observed that it was for the trial court to decide on the explanations regarding the inaccuracies or deficiencies.
The judge noted, “It is clear that it would be premature to accept explanations regarding inaccuracies or deficiencies before trial takes place. It is further apparent that if the lapse is insignificant, then the benefit would go to the accused at the time of sentence, but claiming that deficiencies in Form F and keeping records are insignificant cannot be reason to claim that no offence is there…”
Emphasising on the fact that the evidence during trial would decide on the maintenance of records, the judge added: “This court cannot, before holding of trial, decide whether or not the records have been kept properly or Form F has been properly filled… and if the deficiencies pointed out are serious or insignificant. It would be prejudging the matter.”