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St. Theresa’s Tender Loving Care Home & Ors. v State of Andhra Pradesh Appeal (Civil) 6492 of 2005 delivered on 24th October, 2005.

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NATIONAL LEGAL RESEARCH DESK

It should be ensured that behind the mask of social service or upliftment and evil design of child trafficking is not lurking. It is the duty of the State to ensure a safe roof over an abandoned child.

The basic issue involved in this appeal was that whether the appellant no.1 should be permitted to make arrangement for adoption of a child named Sahiti presently about five years by appellant nos. 2 and 3. Appellant no.1 claimed to be an organization interested in the welfare of abandoned children and to secure a congenial atmosphere for their upbringing. Though, their appeal was dismissed by the Supreme Court.

The State of Andhra Pradesh represented by the Director of Women Development and Child Welfare Department resisted the claim. Their stand was that it had come to the notice of the Government that some unscrupulous organizations in Andhra Pradesh were indulging in child trafficking. With a view to curb menaces, the Government had issued G.O.Ms. No.16 of 2001 banning relinquishment of a child.

In this case the relinquishment deed from the alleged mother of the concerned child was found as fake and the Court ordered for a CBI enquiry. Also, newspaper notification dated 4.6.2001 was made calling for claims by biological parents within 30 days in respect of child Sahiti and eight other cases. The Government of India had also addressed to the Central Adoption Resource Agency (CARA) about the false claim made by appellant and requested to initiate action against him. The Court observed that “if the child is kept in the care and custody of the State and is sent to the children’s home it would be traumatic for the child who has spent five years with the appellant no.1 quite happily. The State Government has accepted in public interest litigation that the children who have been transferred to Shishu Vihar run by the State Government are in a very pathetic condition. More than 100 children have lost their lives due to negligence on the part of the authority running the home and because of poor medical care, and even many of the children have ran away.” This had been the pathetic situation of the Homes for children in Andhra Pradesh.

The Court observed that “It should be ensured that behind the mask of social service or upliftment and evil design of child trafficking is not lurking. It is the duty of the State to ensure a safe roof over an abandoned child.” Further, “Now, obviously children need special protection because of their tender age and physique, mental immaturity and incapacity to look after themselves.” It stressed that keeping in view the welfare of the child all possible efforts should be made by the State Governments to explore a possibility of adoption under the supervision of the designated agency. It also referred to guidelines for adoption as provided in Lakshmi Kant Pandey v Union of India [1984 (2) SCC 244]. The accused appellant had been prosecuted in this case and some of its employees had been convicted as well by the lower court, which was affirmed by the Supreme Court.

SUPREME COURT – St. Theresa’s Tender Loving Care Home & Ors. v State of Andhra Pradesh

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