Red tapism delays relief for parents

Date: 2008-09-01

Red tapism delays relief for parents

September 1, 2008
K Praveen Kumar

CHENNAI: Three years after the controversy over illegal adoptions carried out by Malaysian Social Services (MSS), hit the news stands, the story has made it to the headlines again following a recent report by a foreign publication.

Last month, on the CBI's request, Madras high court issued a letter rogatory under section 166 (a) of CrPC. The CBI forwarded these letters of request to interrogate foster parents of three children, who had been sent abroad - one to the US, one to Australia and another to Netherlands. But the status of these letters remains unknown. The CBI which took over the case following a Madras high court directive in 2007 is itself unsure of the final outcome of the letters.

"The letter of request, issued by the court is forwarded to the ministry of home affairs through the Interpol in India. This is then passed on to the ministry of external affairs (MEA). The MEA then forwards it to the Indian embassy in the respected countries which sends to the Interpol concerned. Case details are collected and submitted to the local police authorities," a CBI official told TOI.

This apart, a local investigation is carried out and if the investigating team is convinced that there is a valid reason for interrogating the foster parents, it submits the same to a local attorney office for clearance. Once the clearance is obtained, the letter takes the reverse route.

Officials, however, contend that all the three countries to which the foster parents belong, are signatories to the Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty with India which will facilitate cooperation in the processing of the letters rogatory.

Current laws on adoption in the country can, however, be a stumbling block. According to Australian law, foster children become Australian citizens and are recognised as children of the adoptive parents. The biological parents will have to fight complicated legal battles to get their children. But none of these families appear financially stable to take the battle to the next level.

It should be recalled that the Ahmedabad High Court, while trying a similar case, had ruled that while seeking return of children, parents should think about their wards' welfare. The court had decided that children, who might be living in luxury in foreign countries, would find it difficult to live in slums with their biological parents.

The CBI has almost finished its in-country investigation. They have re-arrested the accused Vatsala, the chairperson of MSS and its manager Somasundaram in May, this year. But possibilities of these six parents getting back their children in the near future seem remote.

praveen.kumar8@timesgroup .com


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