Adoption row: Will the government initiate legal action?

Ajith, Anupama S Chandran. Photo: Manorama

Thiruvananthapuram: Legal experts have opined that several sections in the Indian Penal Code and Juvenile Justice Act could be invoked against the Child Welfare Committee (CWC) and Kerala State Council for Child Welfare (KSCCW) for the serious procedural lapses committed while handing over Anupama S Chandran's baby to foster parents.

These sections, however, will come into play only if the government decides to act against the offenders.

The Director of the Women and Child Welfare Department, TV Anupama, has flagged serious lapses in her probe report submitted to the Minister for Health and Family Welfare, Veena George, on Wednesday.

The following sections could be invoked if the government decides to act:

Section 80, Juvenile Justice Act (JJA): The section deals with punitive measures for adoption without following prescribed procedures. If found guilty, the accused could get a jail term of up to three years and a penalty of up to Rs 1 lakh.

Section 120B, IPC (Punishment of criminal conspiracy): Imprisonment of up to six months, and penalty. It has been accused that both CWC and KSCCW acted with the common aim of giving up the infant for adoption ever since the baby was handed over to the authorities. Anupama Chandran has also alleged political intervention to give her child away to foster parents.

Section 468, IPC (Forgery for the purpose of cheating): Imprisonment of up to seven years and penalty. It was initially told that Anupama Chandran's parents handed over the child to the KSCCW but later changed the version, saying the baby was left in the 'Ammathottil', an electronic cradle meant to provide better living conditions to the destitute, abandoned and relinquished children. If the baby was handed over to the council directly as said earlier, it amounts to irregularity. It was also alleged that documents were forged to establish the child was an orphan, and to facilitate the adoption process. It is not known if the council had the required licence when it gave the child to foster parents.

Section 420, IPC (Cheating): Imprisonment of up to seven years and penalty. The Andhra Pradesh-based foster parents, who had registered to adopt a child, were misled into believing that Anupama Chandran's baby was an orphan while handing him over to them. They had to return the infant after it was revealed that his biological parents were alive and that he was given up for adoption without their knowledge or consent.

Section 370, IPC: The section deals with human trafficking, and the guilty could be imprisoned for up to seven years, besides being slapped with a fine.  Handing over the child to foster parents by flouting the rule and regulations, and also by forging documents, will be considered as human trafficking.

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