New Delhi: Selling children in the garb of adoption is illegal, a Delhi court has held while urging the authorities to make it an offence punishable under the Indian Penal Code.
"Children/infants are sold in adoption market/`Baccha Baazar` like potatoes, tomatoes and onions," Additional Sessions Judge Kamini Lau said, adding that a "big racket of illegal sale of children for adoption exists in many states".
She noted that baby selling and buying are illegal in many countries and came within the category of adoption fraud.
The court reaffirmed 21-year-old recommendations of the Law Commission for insertion of a provision to punish those involved in selling woman or minor with imprisonment upto seven years.
"Unfortunately in India despite a strong recommendation by the Law Commission in its 146th Report (in 1993) recommending extending of the scope of legal provisions so to cover cases where a woman or a child is sold, whatever be the immediate or ultimate objective of the transaction...Till date no steps have been taken in this direction by the Government of the land," the judge said.
The court passed the order in a case in which a-month-old girl was abandoned by her mother, who had handed her over to a hospital`s mid-wife, and the infant was all set to be sold for Rs one lakh. The police laid a trap and arrested three accused in the case.
The police said some decoy women constables had approached the mid-wife claiming one of them was childless despite her marriage eight years ago and wanted to buy the infant.
As soon as the mid-wife agreed to sell the infant for Rs one lakh, the police team arrested her, it said.
The court, in its order, acquitted accused Anita, Santosh (mid-wife) and Islamudin (OT attendant at New Rohini Hospital) of the charges of criminal conspiracy, kidnapping, abandoning a child and trafficking of a person while observing that no matter how immoral the act was, still it has not been defined as an offence under the IPC.
The court, however, convicted and sentenced the trio to three months jail for the offence of cruelly treating the infant under the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act.
According to the police version, on July 5 last year, Anita, Santosh and Islamudin conspired and kidnapped a month-old girl child from a hospital in Rohini in north west Delhi for exploiting her.
The court, in its verdict, dealt with the modus operandi of such illegal adoptions in the country saying woman who does not wish to keep child after delivery due to certain reasons, allows the infant to be taken by hospital staff.
The staff then gives the child to a prospective adoptive parent after getting huge sum of money, it said.
The court said the case "exposes the helplessness of the criminal justice system to deal with the situation where children/infants are sold in adoption market/`Baccha Baazar` as potatoes, tomatoes and onions".
It said this case also exposes the flip side of the issues relating to adoption in the country.
The court said the Centre and State governments are making efforts to simplify adoption procedures and were encouraging placement agencies to accept abandoned or surrendered children to nurture them till they are adopted, "yet a big racket of illegal sale of children for adoption exists in many states".
It added that there are reports of many illegal adoptions taking place outside the adoption guidelines of Central Adoption Resource Authority (CARA), through hospitals, nursing homes and agencies which are not recognised by state government or CARA.
The court said Law Commission`s recommendation for insertion of Section 373A (selling woman or minor) of the IPC has not been touched upon at all by the legislature and its report has been allowed to gather dust.
"I am pained to observe that even after 21 years of the above recommendations of the Law Commission of India, the recommended amendments are yet to be deliberated upon by those who have been entrusted with the responsibility of framing the laws in this country and yet to see the light of the day," the judge said and directed that a copy of this order be sent to the Chairman of Law Commission of India for information.