The Conversion Agenda

"Freedom to convert" is counterproductive as a generalized doctrine. It fails to come to terms with the complex interrelationships between self and society that make the concept of individual choice meaningful. Hence, religious conversion undermines, and in extremes would dissolve, that individual autonomy and human freedom.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Indian Supreme Court Concerned by Child Trafficking by Christian Agencies

The Deccan Chronicle
Friday, October 28, 2005

In a slap on the face of adoption agencies resorting to child trafficking in the name of inter-country adoptions, the Supreme Court on Thursday directed the authorities concerned to ensure that "behind the mask of social service or upliftment, the evil design of child trafficking is not lurking."

A division bench of Supreme Court comprising Justice Arijit Pasayat and Justice Arun Kumar, while upholding the judgement of the High Court and the Secunderabad family Court, not allowing the inter-country adoption of a five-year-old girl child brought up by St. Theresa's Tender Loving Care Home (TLCH), Erragadda, expressed concern over the menace of child trafficking through inter-country adoption. It asked the government to rise to the occasion and prevent such trafficking. "The orders passed by the High Court and the Family Court in Secunderabad did not suffer from any infirmity to warrant interference," the division bench said.

The petition of TLCH was dismissed by the High Court as the inquiry by the CID had reported that the child was being given to the foreign nationals on the basis of fake and fabricated documents. The SC held that it is the duty of the State to ensure a safe roof over an abandoned child.

The TLCH had been resorting to inter-country adoptions for quite some, till its licence was revoked in 2001, after the exposure of adoption scandals. The adoption racket of TLCH was exposed in these columns consistently, including the sensational case of four-year-old Hasina, who was proposed to be given on adoption to an American couple - John Clements and Sharon Van Epps - by TLCH.

The family court refused permission for adoption on the grounds that the relinquishment documents submitted by the TLCH were fake and fabricated. The TLCH then involved the High Court and later Supreme Court, but everywhere, it had lost the case. The TLCH was also recently in the news with the High Court convicting its chief Sister Tressa Maria for six months in the child trafficking case.

Like TLCH, a number of institutions such as John Abraham Memorial Bethany Home, Tandur, Precious Moments, Action for Social Development, Sparsh and Radhakrishna Home were in the dock for undertaking illegal inter-country adoptions. President of Gramya Resource Centre, Dr Rukmini Rao, who has been fighting against child trafficking welcomed the judgement. "It has been proved time and again that these agencies have been procuring children from tribals by paying Rs 500 or Rs 1,000 and selling them to foreign nationals at US $ 10,000 each" Ms Rukmini said.

Human Rights activist K. Balagopal, who fought the cases against TLCH, said adoption case pertaining to a batch of 13 children were pending in the SC and Thursday's judgement could be one among them.

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