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Shah Rukh sucked into sex-test storm
Probe after tabloid’s claim on baby gender

Shah Rukh Khan with daughter Suhana during an IPL match at Eden Gardens in May this year

Mumbai, June 17: A tabloid report that quoted a purported “insider” from Shah Rukh Khan’s household as saying the actor’s child in the womb of a surrogate mother was a boy spurred the Maharashtra government to order a probe today to see if a sex-selection test was done.

Till late evening, there was no comment from Shah Rukh, who has two children born of wife Gauri. Civic body doctors who visited the film star’s bungalow in connection with the probe did not find him home, an official said.

“They were told by Shah Rukh’s business manager that the actor had not made any statement on expecting a baby boy through surrogacy,” Arun Bamne, executive health officer with the civic body, was quoted by PTI as saying.

Sex-determination tests, which feed the curse of female foeticide in India, are banned on the pain of a five-year jail term. The June 14 report in Mid-Day, however, did not say anything or quote anyone about a sex test having been done.

The report said that Shah Rukh and Gauri, who are seeking a third child through a surrogate mother, had consulted the same doctor who helped Aamir Khan and wife Kiran Rao have their son Azad through surrogacy.

The doctor in question, in-vitro fertilisation pioneer Dr Firuza Parikh of Jaslok Hospital, denied this.

“I have nothing to do with this. Shah Rukh and Gauri Khan have not approached me,” she told The Telegraph.

“Why is my name being dragged into this? I believe that a girl child is the most beautiful thing. I will never carry out a sex-selection test in this lifetime or the next,” she added.

Mid-Day executive editor Sachin Kalbag was not available for comment despite repeated attempts to contact him.

The tabloid’s report, picked up by various websites, had prompted lawyer-activist Varsha Deshpande and the Indian Radiological and Imaging Association (IRIA) to write to the state government for a probe.

IRIA president Dr Rajesh Kapur acknowledged that the suspicions derived solely from the reported advance claim about the baby’s gender.

“I cannot comment on the authenticity of the news report. The government must conduct a probe and if it is found that a sex-selection test was indeed done, then no matter who has violated the law, action must be taken,” he told this newspaper.

Deshpande, member of the national inspection and monitoring committee on the banned sex tests, had made the same point in her letter to the civic body’s health department.

“It appears from the above news article… that Shah Rukh Khan and Gauri Khan have completely violated the Pre-Conception and Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques (PCPNDT) Act,” she wrote.

Going by the claim in the tabloid report, she demanded action against the celebrity couple, Dr Parikh and the directors and trustees of Jaslok Hospital. She threatened to approach a judicial first-class magistrate if no action was taken.

Dr Jignesh Thakkar, the IRIA’s co-ordinator for the pre-natal diagnostic act that bans sex tests, wrote a similar email to state health minister Suresh Shetty, citing reports on three websites.

“Here it is clearly mentioned (that a) baby boy is expected. How on earth did they know? When it is in (the) public domain, that means everyone knows, then why no action on anyone?” the email said.

Shetty today asked the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation’s health department to conduct the probe.

The controversy comes at a time the state government has launched a drive against sex-determination tests, which involve a kind of ultrasound procedure.

The government is cracking down on clinics that do not keep detailed records of all ultrasound scans done there.