By Nisha Nambiar
May 8, 2012 / The Financial Express
Preet Mandir, a Pune-based adoption agency that gained notoreity over alleged malpractices last year, is in the news again for reasons that seem as ignoble as the earlier charges. A CBI chargsheet notwithstanding, the agency, which has permission to give away only 40 children remaining at its Kalyaninagar unit for ‘in-country adoption’, has allegedly been accepting ‘donations’ from parents. This is in gross violation of Child Adoption Resource Agency (CARA) rules.
As per details available with The Indian Express, for 12 children who were to be placed under foster care, the agency has charged adoption cost as well as “donations” from parents.
The CARA guidelines state that for in-country adoption, there is a Rs 1,000 registration fee, home study report and post-adoption follow-up charges of Rs 5,000, and Rs 40,000 as Child Care Corpus. The total payment to be made to the agency is Rs 46,000. Preet Mandir, however, charged donations (as the agency has labeled the entries in its books) ranging from Rs 17,000 to Rs 1 lakh apart from the adoption cost.
Parents who have adopted children from Preet Mandir, however, claim that they were not aware of the rules or the total amount they are supposed to pay the agency. A parent said that she was asked to pay a donation of up to Rs 1 lakh. “After our process was over, they asked us to pay the over-and-above expenses. As we were keen to complete the process we gave the donation.’’
Another parent, who also gave almost Rs 1 lakh, said the agency had demanded the amount as “maintenance charge”, besides the adoption charge for the child.
However, the current managing trustee of Preet Mandir, D P Bhatia, has justified these donations claiming that the agency does not have government aid and hence, depends on ‘donations” to take care of the children. “We have shifted the children to the Kalyaninagar unit from our Camp unit. We were not allowed to keep children older than six at the Camp unit, but at at Kalyaninagar, we can keep children up to 12 years of age. We have permission only for in-country adoptions. If parents are willing to donate to us, we do not refuse them,” said Bhatia.
When told about the ‘donations’, CARA deputy director Dr Jagannath Pati said it was against CARA rules. He said it was the state government’s responsibility to take action if the agency was indeed violating rules. “It is a clear case of violation. In no circumstances should any parent be forced to pay donation. The state needs to look into this at the earliest,’’ said Pati.
The district women and child welfare department is responsible for keeping a tab on such adoption agencies. However, an official said after the CBI chargesheet, there has hardly been any check on the current activities of the adoption agency. “We have already sent them a notice asking them to furnish details about the adoptions that happened over the last year,’’ said the official.
A member of Child Welfare Committee, too, said that ‘taking donations’ is a violation of rules. “How can the agency violate rules again after all that has happened earlier,’’ said the member.
Minister of Women and Child Welfare, Varsha Gaikwad, had recently ordered that all divisions and district-level officers must check the functioning of adoption agencies as well as the number of adoptions done in the last one year. “If any malpractice is found, stern action will be taken against the agency,’’ said a state government official.
Former managing trustee of Preet Mandir, Joginder Bhasin and other members was charged by the CBI in an adoption racket last year. The CBI chargesheet stated that between 2002 and 2010, Bhasin entered into criminal conspiracy with wife Mahinder, son Gurpreet Singh, Vasudev Gangadhar Darshane, social worker Chandrashekar Admane and former chairman of CARA Janindrakumar Mittal to collect children from Maharashtra for adoption and earn huge sums from foster parents. The CBI studied 70 in-country and five inter-country adoption cases of Preet Mandir. The trustees allegedly misappropriated trust’s funds to the tune of Rs 47 lakh. The agency’s licences for foreign adoption and new admissions were cancelled.