JASHMINA DILIP DEVDA vs STATE APPROPRIATE AUTHORITY PC AND PNDT ACT,1994 & 2….Respondent(s)

C/SCA/6215/2011 JUDGMENT IN THE HIGH COURT OF GUJARAT AT AHMEDABAD SPECIAL CIVIL APPLICATION  NO. 6215 of 2011 FOR APPROVAL AND SIGNATURE:  HONOURABLE MR.JUSTICE RAJESH H.SHUKLA : Sd/­ ======================================================= 1 Whether Reporters of Local Papers may be allowed to see the judgment ? YES 2 To   be   referred   to   the   Reporter   or not ? YES 3 Whether   their   Lordships   wish   to   see the fair copy of the judgment ? NO 4 Whether   this   case   involves   a substantial question of law as to the interpretation of the constitution of India,   1950   or   any   order   made thereunder ? NO 5 Whether it is to be circulated to the civil judge ? NO ======================================================= JASHMINA DILIP DEVDA….Petitioner(s) Versus STATE APPROPRIATE AUTHORITY UNDER PNDT ACT  &  1….Respondent(s) ======================================================= Appearance: MR BHARAT T RAO for the Petitioner(s) No. 1 MR BHARAT VYAS AGP for the Respondent(s) No. 1 MR NIKHILESH J SHAH for the Respondent(s) No. 2 ======================================================= CORAM: HONOURABLE MR.JUSTICE RAJESH H.SHUKLA Page 1 of 19 C/SCA/6215/2011 JUDGMENT Date : 05/08/2013 ORAL JUDGMENT 1. The   present   petition   has   been   filed   by   the petitioner   under   Articles   226   and   227   of   the Constitution   of   India   as   well   as   under   the provisions of the Pre­Natal Diagnostic Techniques (Regulation   and   Prevention   of   Misuse)   Act,   1994 and   Rules   made   thereunder   challenging   the   order passed   by   the   State   Appropriate   Authority   in Appeal   No.2   of   2011   dated   17.03.2011   on   the grounds stated in the memo of petition. 2. The facts of the case briefly summarized are that the   petitioner   is   having   hospital   at   Ahmedabad known   as   Dev   Hospital,   which   is   one   type   of Polyclinic   having   other   doctors   from   other branches   like   Gynecology,   Physician   and   General Surgeon, who are also treating patient in the said hospital. The hospital of the petitioner has been granted   registration   under   the   Pre­Natal Diagnostic   Techniques   (Regulation   and   Prevention of Misuse) Act, 1994 (hereinafter referred to as the   “PNDT   Act”)   for   carrying   out   such   genetic counseling,   pre­natal   diagnostic   procedure   and pre­natal   diagnostic   test,   which   is   valid   upto Page 2 of 19 C/SCA/6215/2011 JUDGMENT 23.05.2015.   One   Dr.Ruchita   Sharda,   Gynecology   is also attending the hospital and the husband of the petitioner is also a doctor. It is the case of the petitioner that one Smt.Shilpa Punani of Wadhwan, District : Surendranagar had been admitted in the hospital of the petitioner on 10.09.2010 and she was   advised   to   undergo   ultra   sonography   test, which was carried out and Form No.F was filled in by   Dr.Ruchita   Sharda.   Sonography   test   revealed that foetus, which is developing, was likely to be a   mentally   retarded   child   if   it   is   allowed   to grow.   Therefore   as   per   the   medical   science   and jurisprudence,   advice   has   been   given   to   the patient that foetus is not properly developed and there are chances of complication if it is allowed to give a birth to a child. Therefore, husband and family   members   of   the   patient   agreed   for termination   of   pregnancy   and   the   operation   was performed on 11.09.2010 after obtaining necessary consent and other formalities were completed. However,   one   relative   of   Smt.Shilpaben serving   in   the   office   of   the   Hon’ble   Chief Minister   has   misused   the   office   and   pressurized the   office   of   the   Health   &   Family   Welfare Page 3 of 19 C/SCA/6215/2011 JUDGMENT Department   to   initiate   action   against   the petitioner, which led to complaint by the official and   they   have   visited   the   hospital   and   in violation of Rule 12, prepared the panchnama and seized the sonography machine and certain files of the  hospital   of the  petitioner.  Thereafter,  same has been confiscated and seal has been applied and custody   has   been   given   to   the   petitioner. Therefore,   the   petitioner   approached   the authority,   who   after   following   procedure,   passed impugned   order.   It   is   also   contended   that   the Appropriate Authority without following procedure as prescribed under Section 20(1) and 20(2) of the Act   passed   an   order   of   suspension   of   the registration   of   the   petitioner   dated   25.10.2010 produced at Annexure­D. 3. Heard   learned   counsel,   Shri   B.T.   Rao   for   the petitioner, learned AGP Shri Bharat Vyas for the respondent   no.1   and   learned   counsel,   Shri   N.J. Shah for the respondent no.2. 4. Learned   counsel,   Shri   Rao   referred   to   the provisions   of   Section   20   of   the   PNDT   Act   and submitted   that   provision   of   Sections   20(1)   and 20(2)   of   the   PNDT   Act   clearly   provide   for   the Page 4 of 19 C/SCA/6215/2011 JUDGMENT issuance of the notice and reasonable opportunity of   being   heard   before   passing   order   regarding suspension   of   the   registration.   Learned   counsel, Shri   Rao   submitted   that   as   it   has   a   consequence both   civil   as   well   as   economic   consequence   and also   it   may   affect   the   very   profession   of   the petitioner,   such   an   order   could   not   have   been passed   in   violation   of   principles   of   natural justice. Learned counsel, Shri Rao submitted that though Section 20(3) of the PNDT Act provides in public interest to take action for the reasons to be recorded in writing, the present case would not be   covered   by   such   provision.   He   therefore submitted that having regard to the background of the   facts   that   it   was   in   the   interest   of   the patient as well as foetus, which has not properly developed   and   if   it   was   allowed   to   continue,   it would have led to birth of retarded child. Learned counsel,   Shri   Rao   therefore   submitted   that   as   a member  of  medical  profession,  the  petitioner   and others   are   expected   to   guide   the   patient   and, therefore,   with   the   consent   of   patient   and   her family members and that too, after completing the formalities  and  the  procedure,  the  operation   was Page 5 of 19 C/SCA/6215/2011 JUDGMENT performed   for   termination   of   the   pregnancy   on 11.09.2010. Learned counsel, Shri Rao referred to Annexure­B and  also  referring  to  patient   history record­sheet   and   submitted   that   it   is   dated 10.09.2010 and it refers to Hydrocephalus. He   has also referred to Annexure­C as well as Annexure­D dated   25.10.2010   and   submitted   that   the registration   has   been   suspended   in   purported exercise of power under Sections 20(1) and 20(2) of   the   PNDT   Act.   Learned   counsel,   Shri   Rao submitted   that   no   notice   has   been   given   as required under law, which is mandatory requirement for compliance of the rules of natural justice. He submitted   that   admittedly   no   such   notice   or opportunity   of   hearing   has   been   given   and, therefore, 
such action is bad and illegal. He also referred   to   the   order   passed   by   the   Appellate Authority dated 21.12.2010 produced at Annexure­F. He  submitted   that  though   the  Appellate  Authority has in terms accepted that no notice was issued as required under law, which was legally required to record the reasons before passing order and also the   fact   that   licence   has   been   suspended,   the operative portion of the Appellate Authority does Page 6 of 19 C/SCA/6215/2011 JUDGMENT not satisfy the order and has merely directed to pass suitable order suggesting to fill in lacuna including the provisions of the law. He therefore submitted   that   the   Appellate   Authority   has   also adopted and has to perform its statutory duty as an   authority   and   it   has   led   to   the   present petition when the authority on the basis of such order   of   remand   passed   fresh   order   dated 29.12.2010 produced at Annexure­G, against which, Appeal was preferred, wherein the order came to be passed   by   the   Appellate   Authority   rejecting Appeal,   which   has   led   to   filing   of   the   present petition.   Learned   counsel,   Shri   Rao   pointedly referred   to   the   memo   of   Appeal   as   well   as   the order where the submissions are recorded. Again he emphasized that there is breach of the mandatory provision   of   law,   which   has   not   been   followed. However to fill in lacuna and justify the action, the order is passed in purported exercise of power under Section 20(3) of the PNDT Act. Further the deficiency   are   mentioned,   however,   it   may   be   a procedural   lapse   but   it   would   not   amount   to violation   of   law,   by   which,   harsh   action   of suspension   of   the   registration   and   seal   of   the Page 7 of 19 C/SCA/6215/2011 JUDGMENT machine could be taken by the respondents. Learned counsel, Shri Rao therefore submitted that it was incumbent upon the authority as well as appellate authority to first consider as to whether there is any   violation   of   provisions   of   the   Act,   which would   justify   such   action.   Learned   counsel,   Rao referred to the papers including the communication produced   at Annexure­R­1  with  affidavit  in  reply on behalf of the respondent no.1 addressed by the patient. He also referred to the affidavit of the patient   and   also   statement   dated   27.10.2010   and submitted   that   affidavit   is   required   to   be considered   closely   as   stamp   paper   is   of   Wadhwan and the name of the purchaser  is of the patient herself,   who   is   said   to   have   purchased   on   20th October,   2010.   He   submitted   that   though   it   has been   denied,   she   has   not   consented   for   the operation nor does the paper bear signature, fact remains that it was on the basis of the medical exigency,   she   has   been   advised   with   full understanding   and,   therefore,   the   provisions   of law would not be attracted. Learned counsel, Shri Rao also referred to the provisions of Section 30 of   the   Act,   which   provides   for   ‘power   of   search Page 8 of 19 C/SCA/6215/2011 JUDGMENT and seizure the record r/w Rule 12 of the Rules. He submitted that Rule 12 provides for procedure for search and seizure. Learned counsel, Shri Rao has   referred   to   Rule   12   in   detail   and   submitted that   the   procedure   has   to   be   followed   and   two independent   witnesses   are   required   to   be   kept present.   Therefore,   learned   counsel,   Shri   Rao submitted that how search is made unilaterally is not mentioned. 5. Learned counsel, Shri N.J. Shah for the respondent authority   referred   to   the   papers   in   detail including   page   no.33.   He   also   referred   to   the facts   as   to   how   the   hospital   was   visited   and pointedly referred to the facts that the complaint was made, which was scrutinized and as there was a female  foetus,  termination  was  made  resulting  in this   complaint   for   the   alleged   breach   of   the violation of provisions of law. He submitted that though   it   has   been   stated   that   it   could   be   a technical  lapse  in  the  maintainability  of  record and   fill   the   form,   it   may   not   be   accepted.   He submitted   referring   to   Section   5(2)   of   the   Act that it was examination of the sex of a child and, therefore,   underlying   object   of   the   Act   is Page 9 of 19 C/SCA/6215/2011 JUDGMENT required   to be  considered.  Learned  counsel,  Shri Shah referred to the provision of Section 20(3) of the   Act   and   submitted   that   it   starts   with   nonobstant   clause   and   in   the   public   interest,   such order   could   be   passed.   Similarly   he   referred   to Section 30 read with Rule 12 and submitted that it empowers   seizure   and   seal   on   such   machine   and, therefore, when it has been seized after following procedure   including   the   witnesses,   it   cannot   be said that the procedure has not been followed. He submitted   that   it   may   not   be   necessary   to   take technician. He therefore submitted that in view of underlying   object   of   the   Act,   no   lenient   view could be taken. He has also referred to and relied upon   the   judgment   of   the   Hon’ble   Apex   Court   in case of  P.K. Palanisamy Vs. N. Arumugham & Anr., reported   in  (2009)   9   SCC   173  and   pointedly emphasized   the   observations   made   in   para   nos.28 and   29   and   submitted   that   if   the   authority   is empowered by the statute merely because there is no specific mention of a particular section like Section   20(3)   of   the   Act,   the   order   may   not   be rendered   illegal.  He  also  referred  to  affidavitin­reply   at   length   and   submitted   that   if   the Page 10 of 19 C/SCA/6215/2011 JUDGMENT foetus   was   not   developing   well,   it   was   life threatening and, therefore, the provisions of law could not have been contravened.  6. In  rejoinder,  learned  counsel,  Shri  Rao  referred to   the   reference   book   of   Ultrasonography   in Obstetrics and Gynecology by Peter W. Callen, M.D. produced   at   Annexure­R­4   along   with   the   reply filed   on   behalf   of   the   respondent   no.2.   Learned counsel,   Shri   Rao   submitted   that   such   provision has   civil   consequence   and   in   case   of   such   penal provision has to be considered directly and it has to   be   subject   to   the   satisfaction   of   the authority. He submitted that before coming to any conclusion about the breach or provisions of law, it   requires   to   be   seen   whether   there   is   any justification. He again referred to the papers and submitted that when hydrocephalus is diagnosed and it is allowed to give birth to said foetus, there is   chances   and   possibilities   of   retarded   child, therefore, such termination of pregnancy cannot be a ground for punishing doctor, who has performed his duty as required in the medical provision. He further submitted that had he not advised or had he   not   accepted   the   decision   of   the   patient   for Page 11 of 19 C/SCA/6215/2011 JUDGMENT termin
ation,   he   could   not   have   been   blamed   in future. He submitted that there is no dispute that sonography   reports   are   of   the   same   patient   in which   it   has   been   recorded   specifically   about hydrocephalus   Therefore,   he   submitted   that   the present petition may be allowed. 7. In view of these rival submissions, it is required to be considered whether the present petition can be entertained or not. 8. First aspect which is required to be considered is regarding   the   background   of   the   facts.   It transpires   that   the   patient   had   travelled   from Surendranagar   (Wadhwan).   Admittedly   the   fact   is that   as   required   under   the   law   and   procedure, necessary form/writing for consent of patient for undergoing   operation/surgery   has   been   filled   in. If   the   patient   and/or   her   relatives     were   not willing,   the   pregnancy   could   not   have   been terminated,   meaning   thereby,   the   complainant   and his   family   members   of   the   patient   have   not accepted the medical advise and shown willingness for the surgery and thereafter cannot he heard to say that there is violation of provisions of the PNDT   Act.   This   issue   is   also   required   to   be Page 12 of 19 C/SCA/6215/2011 JUDGMENT considered  in  background   of the  medical  science. The  diagnosis  of  the  foetus  having  Hydrocephalus at the time of sonography may have led to such a decision. Therefore considering underlying object of Act that termination of pregnancy of the female foetus   is   required   to   be   curbed   and   to   achieve object in public interest, such Act has been made. However   it   cannot   be   stretched   that   even   after medical opinion or medical diagnosis when there is possibility of either risk to the life or whether child   to   be   born   may   have   abnormality,   such termination   of   pregnancy   is   not   allowed   or permitted.  In fact on the basis of the right of privacy as well as human rights, patient, who is expected mother would be a best judge or a person to   have   such   decision   guided   by   the   medical science or opinion. Reference is made to the book of Ultrasonography in Obstetrics and Gynecology by Peter W. Callen, M.D., which clearly provides that “Congenital   hydrocephalus   has   generic implications”.  It   is   observed   that   “When hydrocephalus is diagnosed before viability, many parents may request termination of pregnancy. When this   option   is   not   accepted,   and   in   those   cases Page 13 of 19 C/SCA/6215/2011 JUDGMENT recognized   later   on   in   pregnancy,   a   thorough discussion of the possible choices with the couple is recommended. Many authors believe that delivery when   fetal   maturity   is   achieved   and   prompt neurologic treatment will maximize the chances of survival   and  normal  development  for  the  affected infants.” Therefore where there are possibilities of any abnormality of foetus which is allowed to develop may result in a child with law intellect causing   major   stress   to   the   couple   or   mother, which   one   has   to   suffer   could   be   avoided. Therefore may be the object of the Act is loadable but it has to be considered with background of the facts given in a case. 9. Moreover as contended by the petitioner referring to   the   statutory   provisions   of   Section   20   read with Rule 12, it is evident that before taking any such   issue   which   involves   civil   consequence, opportunity   of   hearing   is   required   to   be considered. However admittedly no opportunity has been   given   and   no   notice   as   required   has   been given,   which   would   amount   to   denial   of   rules   of natural justice. Though in the reply, it has been contended   that   such   a   contention   is   vague,   the Page 14 of 19 C/SCA/6215/2011 JUDGMENT fact remains that the provision of Section 20(1) and 20(2)  of the Act has not been complied  with which has led to earlier round of litigation and the   order   passed   by   the   appellate   authority   in Appeal No.5 of 2010 produced at Annexure­F would clearly   suggest   that   it   has   been   observed   that “Looking to the procedure adopted by the District Appropriate   Authority,   it   would   appear   that   the District   Appropriate   Authority   has   passed   order under section 20(1)(2) of the Act. The Appropriate Authority   was   required   to   issue   a   notice   to   the Genetic   Clinic   to   show   cause   as   to   why   its registration   should   not   be   suspended   for   the reasons   mentioned   in   the   notice   under   Section 20(1) & (2) of the Act. No such notice was issued to   the   Genetic   Clinic.   The   District   Appropriate Authority   was   legally   required   to   record   the reasons and then to pass the appropriate order and that   the   District   Appropriate   Authority   had   to specify   the   period   of   suspension   of   the registration”. This would clearly suggest that the procedure as required under Section 20(1) & (2) of the   Act   have   not   followed   with   regard   to   the issuance   of   the   notice   or   the   show   cause   notice Page 15 of 19 C/SCA/6215/2011 JUDGMENT and the order of the District Authority could have been set aside in Appeal. The Appellate Authority while remanding and deciding this matter seeks to have suggested the District Authority to resort to Section 20(3), which provides as under :­ “Notwithstanding   anything   contained   in subsections (1) and (2), if the Appropriate Authority   is   of   the   opinion   that   it   is necessary   or   expedient   so   to   do   in   the public interest, if may, for reasons to be recorded   in   writing,   suspend   the registration   of   any   Genetic   Counselling Centre,     Genetic   Laboratory   or   Genetic Clinic   without   issuing   any   such   notice referred to in sub­section (1).” 10. Thus in order  to have an explanation or way out for   non   compliance,   sub­section   (3)   is   resorted that if for the reasons to be recorded in writing, it may suspend such cancellation without issuance of   notice.   Again   before   such   power   could   be exercised, it has to be :­ (i) in public interest; (ii) reasons   have   to   be   recorded   in   writing justifying that it is necessary in public interest   to   suspend   the   license   without notice. 11. Therefore   merely   by   stating   or   suggesting   that power   is   provided   in   sub­section   (3)   of   Section Page 16 of 19 C/SCA/6215/2011 JUDGMENT 20,   the   case   does   not   automatically   fall   under Section 20(3)  nor it could be covered  in such a manner. Admittedly no reasons are stated and there is no public interest. If the underlying objects are to be seen in public interest then every case would   be   falling   under   that   category   of   public interest   and   provision   of   Section   20(1)   &   (2) would   be   rendered   redundant.   Therefore   the Legislature has in a given circumstances kept the discretion open for the authority that such power could be exercised even without notice in a given case in a public interest subje
ct to the reasons to   be   recorded   in   writing   that   is   not   the   case herein  and,  therefore,  the  contentions  raised  by learned   counsel,   Shri   Rao   are   required   to   be accepted on that count also. 12. The submission made by learned counsel, Shri Shah referring to the observations made by the Hon’ble Apex   Court   in   case   of  P.K.   Palanisamy   (supra), more   particularly,   paragraph   nos.28   and   29   are misconceived.   The   submission   that   it   is   not   the case of the petitioner that there is no power and, therefore, patient has the power is there and the order   cannot   be   set   aside   merely   because   the Page 17 of 19 C/SCA/6215/2011 JUDGMENT section   is   wrongly   mentioned   or   there   was   some lapse.   In   fact   this   judgment   would   not   have   any application to the facts of the case and for issue involved in this, it has been given with reference to   the   interpretation   of   the   provisions   of   the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908 and the issue is not that   section   or   the   provision   of   the   Act   is wrongly quoted but the issue is that the procedure prescribed   by   the   statute   has   not   been   complied with   and,   therefore,   the   reliance   placed   on   the observation   quoted   in   the   aforesaid   judgment   , reported in (2009) 9 SCC 173 (supra) in paragraph no.28   is   misconceived.   The   issue   is   not   with regard to the lack of power but the issue is with regard  to the exercise  of power in a given case subject to the compliance with the procedure like notice as contemplated under Section 20(1) & (2) of the Act. 13. Another   facet   of   argument   that   in   exercise   of discretion   under   Articles   226   and   227   of   the Constitution   of   India,   the   High   Court   may   not interfere with the order and the scope is limited is   also   misconceived.   In   fact   when   there   is   a breach   or   violation   of   the   provisions   of   the Page 18 of 19 C/SCA/6215/2011 JUDGMENT statute   requiring   compliance   with   the   rules   of natural justice, it is rather obligatory for the High Court to set aside such order and it cannot be   sustained.   A   useful   reference   can   be   made   to the judgment of the Hon’ble Apex Court in case of L. Hriday Narain Vs. Income Tax Officer, Bareilly, reported in AIR 1971 SC 33. Therefore, the present petition deserves to be allowed. 14. In the circumstances, the present petition stands allowed   in   terms   of   Para   No.21(A)   &   21(AA).   The impugned   order   passed   by   the   respondent   no.1   in Appeal   No.2   of   2011   dated   17.03.2011   confirming the order passed by the District Authority dated 29.12.2000 is hereby quashed and set aside. Rule is made absolute. No cost. Sd/­ (RAJESH H.SHUKLA, J.) Gautam Page 19 of 19C

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