Doctors kingpins of baby selling racket, say activists

The busting of a baby-selling racket in the City on Thursday, when a doctor and her son were caught red-hand while selling a newborn, seems to be the tip of the iceberg, if one were to believe the child right activists

 According to the activists, a huge and organised network of selling babies exists in the City as well as the State.

“Such a well-oiled network can not run without the co-operation of hospital staff. In most of the cases, doctors from reputed hospitals and nursing homes themselves have been kingpins of such baby-selling racket. This menace is rampant across the country,” said Nina Nayak, member, National Commission for Protection of Child Rights.

Nayak recounted that when she was the chairperson of the Child Rights Commission, Karnataka, she had come across more than half-a-dozen cases where in some of the reputed hospitals and nursing homes were selling off abandoned babies and also those born to unwed women, to issueless couples.

They had also arranged for issuing birth certificates indicating that baby was the biological child of the adopted parents, there by completely legitimising the entire process. The commission had then instituted an inquiry and she had passed an interim order on September 20, 2010 and had recommended stringent measures against the hospitals and steps to be taken to curb the menace in the city.

Nayak said the Commission had then requested the Central Crime Branch of City Police to probe the matter. “However, nothing came out of it and the entire issue fizzled out in no time,” she lamented.

Meena Jain, chairperson, Child Welfare Committee, Karnataka said there were no specific Central or State laws to deal with selling of babies and punish those involved in it.

The Ministry of Women and Child Development has now proposed to amend the Juvenile Justice Act, 2000. The draft amendment Bill for the first time lists sale and procurement of children for the purpose of adoption as a crime and, has a separate section that provides for  imprisonment that may extend to seven years.

Imprisonment

Section 84 of the draft amendment Bill states - “Any person who sells or procures children for the purpose of adoption shall be punishable for a term of imprisonment for a term which may extend up to five years and shall also be liable to fine.

Provided that where such offence is committed by a person having actual charge of the child, including employees of a hospital or nursing home, shall be  punishable by a term of imprisonment not less than three years and may extend up to seven years.”

The Centre has sought the opinion of the state governments in this regard and the Bill is yet to come before the Cabinet. Child right activists have been seeking cancellation of the licence of those hospitals involved in such offences.

Dr Parvin in police custody

Dr Parvin of Getwell Hospital, Neelasandra, and her son Harsha who were arrested on Thursday for selling a baby were produced in the jurisdictional court, which remanded them to police custody for four days.

The police visited the hospital on Friday and seized several documents. Efforts to trace the biological parents of the child has drawn a blank so far, police sources said.

The rescued baby, which has been admitted at the Indira Gandhi institute of Child Health, has been doing fine. Hospital sources said they would discharge the baby within a day as its blood test reports were normal. The baby would be shifted to a shishu mandir in the care of Child Welfare Committee.

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