Court awards custody of unclaimed baby to couple

Court awards custody of unclaimed baby to couple

Experts call for strict action and rehabilitation of babies with no family

SRINAGAR: A court in Srinagar gave custody to a couple on Thursday of an infant female abandoned a month ago at LD Hospital.
The baby was admitted to the hospital’s neonatology ward by an unknown person who left her there. After waiting for more than a week, the hospital authorities complained to the police, whereupon an FIR, no.17/2017, was lodged at police station Rajbagh. After news of the abandoned baby spread, various couples approached the court for her custody.
The court of Chief Judicial Magistrate Massarat Shaheen recorded the statements of five couples with respect to their education and financial capability and handed over custody to a Srinagar-based couple after going through their property documents and their educational background. The couple are well-settled, having secure jobs and stable family backgrounds, and together earn more than Rs 1 lakh a month. The court had received more than 15 applications for the baby’s custody.
While handing over custody, the court ordered the couple to deposit Rs 5 lakh as security for the baby within a week. From 2016 to the present, the court has granted custody of five abandoned babies to different couples.
As no children’s committee has yet been set up here to help the government look after unclaimed babies, such cases are showing a steep rise in Kashmir. The government had promised in February to set up a mechanism whereby abandoned babies could be properly rehabilitated.
The process, according to officials, would start under the centrally sponsored Integrated Child Protection Scheme (ICPS). Experts are advocating strict action against those who abandon their babies and are calling for the record system to be upgraded.
According to advocate Jahanara Shah, “Marital feuds, growing immorality and births of babies outside marriage are some major reasons which lead to the abandoning of infants. I believe it’s high time for the government to take necessary steps in this regard for their proper rehabilitation.”
Dr. Saima Rashid, a gynaecologist working outside the state, said, “When a baby is born at any hospital, the parents with their baby must be photographed for future records. Not only this, a database must be maintained for every single patient so that unclaimed babies can be identified from the records in no time. But unfortunately that is not happening in Kashmir.”


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