Mumbai: The Maharashtra government has
proposed an amendment to the Indian Penal Code, to
decriminalise abandonment of children by unwed mothers to curb
malpractises in domestic and inter-country adoptions.
The state submitted a draft action plan to the Bombay
High Court earlier this week to clean up the adoption system
and the proposal to decriminalise child abandonment is a part
of this plan.
The proposal would be sent to the Centre, state told the
court, which was hearing a petition filed by Pune-based NGO
Adwait Foundation against adoption agency Preet Mandir, after
latter faced allegations of sale of children.
"The IPC presently criminalises abandonment of babies
even by unwed mothers...The state government will request the
Centre to consider decriminalising such offences and instead
facilitate those mothers who are willing to retain their
babies to do so through programmes and schemes such as creches
or day-care centres," the draft plan says.
Since it is an offence at present, women sometimes are
forced to abandon children in deserted places, where they
became targets of adoption-for-money rackets, the draft says.
Under section 317 of the IPC, abandonment of a child
below 12 years by parents or caretaker is a criminal offence
attracting a maximum jail-term of seven years.
The government has also suggested that profiles of
children available for adoption, and that of potential
adoptive parents should be put up on the government’s website
to facilitate suitable adoptions.
The next hearing will take place after four weeks.