X-ray men sue govt over restrictive norms

Radiologists managing ultrasound clinics have dragged the Centre to the court over a recent notification restricting their practice within a district in an effort to bring down the menace of sex selection and female foeticide.

The notification says medical practitioners trained to carry out ultrasound can do the same only in two clinics in a district and the clinics have to specify the consulting hours. Also if they want to go for a vacation, they have to notify the authority about the alternative arrangement a month in advance.

Radiologists have challenged the notification in the court terming it “unfair and unconstitutional” that infringes on their right to livelihood. Indian Radiological and Imaging Association (IRIA) – India’s only body of radiologist professionals – challenged the government order in Delhi High Court. A bench headed by Chief Justice of Delhi High Court will hear the case on July 23. A state branch of IRIA, too, opposed the notification in Madhya Pradesh High Court in Jabalpur.

“The two centre restriction will impact young radiologists who take years to establish themselves in the profession as well as those doctors who visit charitable dispensaries running USG clinics and small nursing homes who can not afford to have a full time radiologist. If they can not attend more than two clinics, they are unlikely to attend these outlets,” Rajesh Kapur, a Delhi-based radiologist and president (elect) of IRIA told Deccan Herald.

Stern rule

The 30-day advance information rule has its own problem. “If a sonologist working under me leaves tomorrow, I can not run the clinic for the next 30 days as per the new rule,” Kapur argued.

“There’s no doubt that India’s female sex ratio has been falling progressively over decades. But to conclude that restricting sonologists from visiting more than two centres within a district will solve this problem is fallacious because the real problem lies elsewhere,” IRIA president Harsh Mahajan said.

“If a MBBS doctor can practice at 10 places then why restrict us. Radiologists don’t kill baby girls, it’s the gynecologists who does the abortion,” said Mahajan.  

The new notification comes in the wake of decisions taken at a meeting of the Central Supervisory Board (CSB) to the Pre-Conception and Pre-Natal Diagnostic Act, 1994 in Mumbai on January 14 in which the board agreed to toughen the rules against sex selection.

The CSB decided doctors would be allowed to be registered at two centres and that too within a district.  The move was aimed at stopping the practice of doctors lending their names to clinics with ulterior motives in exchange for a fee. Next CSB meeting is slated for July 20.

According to the 2011 census, as many as 22 states and five union territories witnessed a dip in the killing of unborn girl children.

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