Woman to move SC against ex-husband as HC rejects plea on gender test

Woman to move SC against ex-husband as HC rejects plea on gender test

Dr Mitu Khurana, purportedly the first Indian woman to initiate proceedings against her former spouse and his relatives under a law that bans foetal sex determination.

Sneha Agrawal  | Posted by Parthshri Arora
New Delhi, April 26, 2016 | UPDATED 08:59 IST

Pre-natal sex determination attracts a penalty of `50,000 and/or 3-yr jail term.

A city-based pediatrician at the centre of a landmark lawsuit alleging that her ex-husband illegally tested the gender of her unborn twin daughters and pressured her to abort them has vowed to fight on after being defeated in the Delhi High Court on Monday over a technicality.

Dr Mitu Khurana, purportedly the first Indian woman to initiate proceedings against her former spouse and his relatives under a law that bans foetal sex determination, said she will approach the Supreme Court after the high court turned down her petition.

“I have been fighting for over 10 years,” said the doctor, who gave birth to the girls in 2005 and subsequently left her husband, alleging abuse. “I have lost my health, my profession, money, mental peace… If I give up today, it will harm several women who have not been able to raise the voice so far. They are being tortured day in and day out for giving birth to a girl child.”

After losing the case in the trial court Khurana approached the high court, but it rejected her petition on the grounds of “limitation”.

“Whenever an offence is committed, there is a particular period within which you have to report about it. In this case the limitation period is three years,” explained her lawyer, Sanjay Parikh.

According to the 2011 census, India has only 918 girls for every 1,000 boys below six years of age. The United Nations said two years ago that the dwindling number of girls in the country had reached “emergency proportions” and was contributing to violent sex crimes against women.

Khurana filed a case against her husband, Dr Kamal Khurana, his mother and another member of his family, for allegedly colluding with a hospital official to determine the gender of her foetuses while she was pregnant in 2004, and then pressurising her to undergo an abortion.

She says she got to know about the offence only in 2008 and immediately approached authorities, seeking justice under The Pre-conception and Pre-Natal Diagnostics and Test Act passed in 1994. “Our submission was that since a crime against a woman is a crime against the society it should be treated as a continuous offence,” said Parikh.

The Act provides for a maximum punishment of threeyear jail term and financial penalty of up to Rs 50,000.

The paediatrician became a known face after appearing on actor Aamir Khan‘s show Satyamev Jayate, in an episode dealing with female foeticide.

“I will continue to fight because when my daughters were born and I held them in my arms for the first time- I promised them they will not be forced to kill their own daughters. I promised to hand them over a better world and a more just society,” she said. “I do not want to punctuate the spirit of mothers who are going through a similar experience. I am their voice.”

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