Hyderabad, India: Slap in the face for infant trafficking adoption agencies Print E-mail
 Friday, October 28, 2005

SC upholds HC order on Theresa case


Hyderabad, Oct. 27: In a slap on the face of adoption agencies resorting to child trafficking in the name of inter-country adoptions, the Supreme Court on Thursday directed the authorities concerned to ensure that "behind the mask of social service or upliftment, the evil design of child trafficking is not lurking."

A division bench of Supreme Court comprising Justice Arijit Pasayat and Justice Arun Kumar, while upholding the judgement of the High Court and the Secunderabad family Court, not allowing the inter-country adoption of a five-year-old girl child brought up by St. Theresa's Tender Loving Care Home (TLCH), Erragadda, expressed concern over the menace of child trafficking through inter-country adoption. It asked the government to rise to the occasion and prevent such trafficking. "The orders passed by the High Court and the Family Court in Secunderabad did not suffer from any infirmity to warrant interference," the division bench said.

The petition of TLCH was dismissed by the High Court as the inquiry by the CID had reported that the child was being given to the foreign nationals on the basis of fake and fabricated documents. The SC held that it is the duty of the State to ensure a safe roof over an abandoned child.

The TLCH had been resorting to inter-country adoptions for quite some, till its licence was revoked in 2001, after the exposure of adoption scandals. The adoption racket of TLCH was exposed in these columns consistently, including the sensational case of four-year-old Hasina, who was proposed to be given on adoption to an American couple - John Clements and Sharon Van Epps - by TLCH.

The family court refused permission for adoption on the grounds that the relinquishment documents submitted by the TLCH were fake and fabricated. The TLCH then involved the High Court and later Supreme Court, but everywhere, it had lost the case. The TLCH was also recently in the news with the High Court convicting its chief Sister Tressa Maria for six months in the child trafficking case.

Like TLCH, a number of institutions such as John Abraham Memorial Bethany Home, Tandur, Precious Moments, Action for Social Development, Sparsh and Radhakrishna Home were in the dock for undertaking illegal inter-country adoptions. President of Gramya Resource Centre, Dr Rukmini Rao, who has been fighting against child trafficking welcomed the judgement. "It has been proved time and again that these agencies have been procuring children from tribals by paying Rs 500 or Rs 1,000 and selling them to foreign nationals at US $ 10,000 each" Ms Rukmini said.

Human Rights activist K. Balagopal, who fought the cases against TLCH, said adoption case pertaining to a batch of 13 children were pending in the SC and Thursday's judgement could be one among them.
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Friday October 28 2005

Court cautions States on inter-country adoption

Legal Correspondent

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court has cautioned the States to ensure that children, particularly from orphanages, given in adoption to foreign parents, are not used for child trafficking.

"It should be ensured that behind the mask of social service the evil design of child trafficking is not lurking", the court said.

A Bench of Justice Arijit Pasayat and Justice Arun Kumar said: "It is the duty of the State to ensure a safe roof over an abandoned child. Keeping in view the welfare of the child all possible efforts should be made by the State governments to explore the possibility of adoption under the supervision of a designated agency."

The Bench, however, said that keeping in view the guidelines already framed by the apex court earlier in the case of Lakshmi Kant Pandey, adoption by foreign parents might be permitted by the States in appropriate cases.

The Bench while upholding a judgment of the Andhra Pradesh High Court declining permission for inter-country adoption of a five-year girl child from St. Theresa's Tender Loving Care Home, observed: "A child is a precious gift and merely because he or she for various reasons is abandoned by the parents that cannot be a reason for further neglect by the society."

The Bench reiterated that the seven-point guidelines given in Pandey's case should be strictly followed while giving children in adoption.

Every effort must be made first to see if the child could be rehabilitated by adoption within the country by Indian parents; if that was not possible then only adoption by foreign parents should be permitted.

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