Vegetable vendor’s plea moves apex court

Source: http://news.webindia123.com 
New Delhi |Monday, 2010 11:05:12 AM IST

The Supreme Court has sought the Maharashtra government’s response to a lawsuit filed by a vegetable vendor accusing a Pune-based private trust of selling her two granddaughters to a Spanish couple under the garb of adoption.

A bench of Justice Aftab Alam sought the reply also from the Central Adoption Resource Agency (CARA) on a lawsuit by Kisabai Tulsiram Lokhande, the grandmother of the girls.

In her lawsuit Lokhande, a vegetable vendor, has accused the private trust, Preet Mandir, of selling her two granddaughters to a Spanish couple for Rs.5 lakh and Rs.25 lakh respectively. She said she had handed over the girls to an observation home in Karad in September 2004 as she was unable to look after them.

Lokhande came to the apex court challenging a Bombay High Court judgment that dismissed her habeas corpus petition – a writ that may be issued to bring a party before a court or judge – on the ground that she had herself surrendered the children to the observation home.

The high court also held that Lokhande had failed to respond to an advertisement that was issued on behalf of the private trust in a national Hindi daily.

Appearing for Lokhande, senior advocate Rajiv Dutta contended before the apex court that his client was an “illiterate vegetable vendor” and the advertisement by the trust, declaring that the girls were to be given in adoption, was an eye wash.

“The woman is illiterate and the high court lost sight of this fact that her consent was only to transfer the granddaughters to any other institution within Maharashtra and not to give them away for inter-country adoption,” said Dutta.

According to Lokhande’s lawsuit, she had placed her granddaughters in an observation home at Karad in July 2004 as she was unable to support their educational expenses. The girls were produced before the Satara child welfare committee (CWC) and were later moved to Preet Mandir. After CARA declared them destitute in December 2004, the girls were given away to a Spanish couple.

The elder girl is in her early 20s now and the younger one in her teens. Their parents had died and the sisters were being looked after by their grandmother.

Lokhande learned of the alleged illegal adoption process after she filed an application under the Right to Information Act with the help of some NGOs. In reply to her query, the department for women and child welfare criticised the adoption process and said the decision to rehabilitate the grandchildren should have taken place with Lokhande’s consent.

(Rana Ajit can be contacted at rana.ajit@ians.in)