The state health secretary wrote to the union health and family welfare ministry last month: “It is submitted that the necessary possible amendment may be carried out in the PCPNDT Act, 1994, so that... sex selective abortions be treated as murder and the offence punishable under section 302 of the IPC.”
Provisional figures of Census 2011 released earlier this year show a drastic fall in Maharashtra’s child sex ratio — from 913 (girls per 1,000 boys) in 2001 to 883 in 2011. The state has identified five districts with a sex ratio worse than the national average of 914, and targeted sonography clinics.
Under Section 23 (3) of the PCPNDT Act, any act of determination of sex of the foetus attracts a jail term of up to three years and a fine of Rs 10,000. Repeat offenders may be jailed up to five years and fined up to Rs 50,000.
Public Health Minister Suresh Shetty had told the state assembly that the government would recommend making the Act more stringent. The law has been criticised as failing to evoke fear in offenders.
The government recently ordered a crackdown on sex selective abortions after a woman died at a Beed hospital while allegedly undergoing illegal abortion. A total 5,464 of the state’s 8,331 registered sonography clinics were inspected. Fifty-seven were found to be violating provisions of the Act, and action was taken against 54.