In the alleged interstate child-selling racket busted by the Mumbai Police earlier this month, four persons, who had allegedly purchased the children, were granted bail by the sessions court this week.
The four claimed before the court that they themselves were victims of the racket as they were given the impression that they were adopting the children. The four children allegedly purchased by them were rescued and are residing in a children’s home in Mankhurd.
“The applicants contended that they had adopted the children as per the right custom. As the children have been rescued, they are in proper custody. The photographs (of the adopted children) placed by the applicants on record shows the applicants have no malafide intention of trafficking the children. Their intention is to adopt the children,” said additional sessions judge D S Deshmukh while granting bail to Delhi-based siblings Neha Gupta (34), Abhinav Agarwal (40) and Rahul Gupta (34). Another person, who had allegedly purchased a child, Amar Desai (30), also received bail. The four were arrested earlier this month and had been in custody since.
Sadanand Shetty, the lawyer representing the Delhi-based accused, had claimed that Neha had come in touch with absconding accused, Pawan Kumar, who claimed to be part of an NGO that facilitates adoption. In 2016, Neha had adopted a child through Kumar. The police claimed that after purchasing the first child in 2016, Neha had helped her brother, Agarwal, adopt a child for Rs 2 lakh in 2018. In the same year, she helped her brother, Rahul, adopt a child with money paid to co-accused Bhagyashree Koli.
After arresting the other accused, including Koli, the police were led to the persons who had allegedly purchased the children. The police claimed that they were not able to submit any documents on the adoption of the three children.
Shetty said the three accused believed they were adopting the children through an NGO engaged in adoption and its coordinator, Koli. According to Shetty, Koli had said the money was meant to complete documentation and other formalities, not to purchase a child. He said Kumar and Koli had fled after giving them the custody of the children. Shetty said they could not abandon the children and so, continued to take care of them. Desai’s lawyer, Ajay Dubey, made similar submissions.
The court held that there was no need to keep them in further custody and granted them bail. A total of 10 arrests were made in this case, including women who had earlier been surrogate mothers or worked as nurses in hospitals.