OVER A year after the Mumbai Police busted an inter-state child trafficking racket, where children were allegedly bought from biological parents and sold to couples looking to adopt them, a city civil court has allowed one of the couples to legally adopt a child allegedly sold to them.
The Delhi-based couple will now be the adoptive parents of the four-year-old child, who has been staying at an adoption centre after being rescued by the police last year.
The court has directed the municipal authorities concerned to issue a birth certificate of the child and declare him as the couple’s son. The child’s custody will be handed over to the couple by the city’s Child Welfare Committee (CWC) after an appeal period is over and requisite procedures are completed.
The court has also directed a police officer in charge of the social service cell to regularly depute a woman constable to the couple’s home to ensure that the boy is being taken proper care, till the criminal proceedings in the case are completed.
Last year, the Mumbai Police had rescued six children, aged between 18 months and seven years, claiming they had busted a trafficking racket. The police said the children — all male and belonging to poor parents — were sold through a nexus of surrogate mothers, hospital staff, IVF centre employees to families looking to adopt children.
Four adoptive parents, who were arrested, had submitted to the court that they had not purchased the children but were given the impression by the other accused that they were lawfully adopting them without any pecuniary transaction involved.
The six children, who were by then already with their new families and some of them going to school, were rescued and sent to an adoption centre, following which the couples had sought their temporary custody stating they were taking good care of them.
They had also submitted that the children were facing the trauma of separation pending a decision on the case due to no fault of theirs. The CWC, however, had refused to grant them temporary or permanent custody stating they had not been legally adopted.
A petition was then filed by the couples seeking to complete required adoption proceedings. The Bombay High Court had in August directed the city civil court to complete the proceedings within eight weeks.
The Delhi-based couple had submitted that they had not paid any money for the four-year-old boy, but had adopted him as per the Hindu Adoption and Maintenance Act. The adoption proceedings of four other couples are pending while in one case, the biological mother of the child has also claimed his custody.
The criminal proceedings in the case are pending with a petition by the couples, seeking quashing of the FIR against them, also before the Bombay High Court. During the lockdown, the court had allowed the parents to interact with the children through video-conference.
The police had arrested a few others in the case, including an alleged key accused who coordinated with both sets of parents, nurses and others. All of them have been granted bail.
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