Beed (Maharashtra): Eight years after the sensational rackets of illegal sex determination tests and female feticide shook the state, the Beed Sessions Court sentenced a medico couple to 10 years rigorous imprisonment, here on Friday.
The couple, (Drs) Sudam Munde, 61 and his wife Saraswati, 58 were among 17 accused of carrying out illegal sex determination tests and performing selective abortions of female fetuses.
Besides the Munde couple, another accused Mahadev Patekar has also been found guilty and slapped with a 10-year sentence. Ten others were acquitted for insufficient evidence against them and four accused died during the pendency of the trial.
All have been found guilty and convicted under various sections of the stringent Pre-Conception & Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques Act, 1994 and the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act, 1971.
It was in May 2012 that the death of a woman, Vijaymala Patekar, a mother of four young girls, died while performing an illegal abortion of her fifth pregnancy, reportedly a female child. One of the convicts is her husband (Mahadev), who allegedly pressured her to undergo the illegal operation.
Her death blew the lid off a massive multi-state racket being blatantly perpetrated by the Munde couple in connivance with middlemen and associates, with patients pouring in from Maharashtra, Gujarat, Karnataka and other places, at their private hospital in Parli.
They charged Rs 20,000 per illegal abortions of female fetuses from young couples who wanted a male child owing to various social-economic factors.
Over the years, the son of a poor farmer, Sudam Munde amassed a huge fortune, including over 350 acres of properties worth crores in and around Beed, through the illegal practices in his hospital.
The convicted trio has also been fined Rs 450,000 which will be kept in deposit in a nationalized bank for the Patekars’ four minor daughters’ upkeep and education, the court ordered.
The Munde couple and others involved were arrested by the police and investigations exposed a massive racket going on in the illegal hospital with 120-beds, against the permitted 10 beds.
Later, as the case ramifications surfaced, the Maharashtra Medical Council cancelled the medical licences of the Munde couple.
During the long trial lasting over nearly six years, among the prime prosecution witnesses were the government and civil doctors, medical experts, the coroner and police officials, which proved crucial to the case, resulting in conviction.