While NIPT is legal in India, the test is allowed to be used only to detect genetic disorders in the embryo, such as cystic fibrosis, thalassemia, sickle cell anaemia, phenylketonuria, among others. This test analyses small fragments of DNA circulating in a pregnant woman’s blood.
“Blood samples of pregnant women were taken to conduct NIPT at labs. This procedure can only be carried out at registered genetic clinics and by qualified and registered persons under the Pre-Conception and Prenatal Diagnostic Techniques Act & Rules 1994 /1996 (PCPNDT Act/Rules). However, this collection centre at the private lab is not registered under PCPNDT Act/Rules. A sample was taken by unqualified persons at the lab in gross violation of Section 3 of PNDT Act,” said Dr Virender Yadav, chief medical officer, Gurgaon.
The raid was carried out by the health department on a tip-off that the centre had not maintained a mandatory record of pregnant women and the lab had not taken mandatory consent of pregnant women before carrying out the genetic study. Following this tip-off, a health department team sent a pregnant woman to the lab for NIPT.
The decoy’s blood sample was taken at the lab and it was sent to two labs in Sector 14 and in Delhi’s Rohini for processing. The team observed that the labs, which processed the samples did not follow the protocol for sample collection, testing procedure and mandatory documentation as required under PNDT Act. The team found that the lab used to charge Rs 15,000 to Rs 25,000 per test.
A case was filed at Sector 65 police station on Saturday against the three labs under sections 3, 4, 5, 29 read with rules 9, 10, 14, 18 PCPNDT Act/Rules punishable under Section 23 and under sections 34, 120 B, 420 and 406 of the IPC.