The Kerala government has not yet been able to tell a family court in Thiruvananthapuram how a child believed to be Anupama Chandran’s was brought into the adoption pool despite being asked repeatedly.
As of now, even as the government claims that all due procedures were followed, the court has allowed a DNA test to establish Anupama’s relation with the child.
At the hearing on Monday (November 1), the court asked the government to make it clear how the Kerala State Council for Child Welfare (KSCCW) got the child and how it made the baby “legally free for adoption” against the will of the biological parents.
Anupama has said that her baby boy born on October 19, 2020, was taken away from her by her parents four days later, saying that he would be returned after her sister’s marriage.
The child was born to Anupama and Ajith, who was at that time married to another woman, and due to this, Anupama’s parents were against their relationship and had tried to force her to go for abortion.
According to Anupama’s father, PS Jayachandran, he had given the baby to KSCCW, an NGO which runs the government’s cradle scheme, where babies are abandoned as the parents are unable to take care of the child due to their poor economic conditions.
Jayachandran, an influential CPI(M) leader in the region, has also said before that he had given the baby after taking the consent of Anupama and that she had signed a letter of consent in the presence of a notary.
However, Anupama denied this claim and told The Federal that the signature was obtained by force and intimidation when she was nine months pregnant.
“Such a letter of consent has absolutely no validity before a court of law. The biological mother of a child can surrender the baby if she is not in a position to rear the child, but the mother has to be directly present and this cannot be done through a third person endorsed by a letter,” says advocate Asha Unnithan, Anupama’s lawyer.
The letter also says that Anupama can take the baby back if she wants to later. According to legal experts, such a procedure is not legally tenable unless the mother herself hands over the baby.
Anupama’s partner Ajith, who had in January 2021 obtained divorce from his first wife, told The Federal that he had approached the KSCCW several times, but the general secretary, whom he knew personally, told him that he did not know about their baby.
Anupama says she was confined to her house by her parents till March 2021, when she managed to escape. And despite complaining to the police and the district Child Welfare Committee by April 2021, the authorities went ahead with adoption procedures. An advertisement was put out in newspapers and the child was given to foster parents in August 2021.
“This is nothing less than child trafficking. An institution which is supposed to protect the rights of the children colluding with individuals to do child trafficking is unbelievably shocking,” advocate Asha says.
Interestingly, the baby’s gender was recorded as female and this was repeated in the advertisements put out, which led the parents to believe that it was not their baby.
Initially, the local police too had not registered Anupama’s complaint nor begun a probe. The court has stayed the adoption.