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Chandigarh

Posted at: Dec 7, 2018, 1:57 AM; last updated: Dec 7, 2018, 1:57 AM (IST)

Sordid tale ends as infant finally lands in mother’s lap

Was in custody of Mohali District Child Welfare Committee after being taken away by neighbour from hospital

‘Panel callous’

  • Seeking directions for the infant’s release from the committee’s custody, the petitioner, through counsel Dhiraj Chawla, had alleged that the panel was “highly insensitive and callous”. It was continuing with the child’s custody, violating in the process the fundamental rights of an infant to have mother’s milk, extremely crucial for his health and immunity.

Saurabh Malik

Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 6

Less than 100 days after he was born, an infant has finally landed in his mother’s lap, ending a sordid tale that began with a neighbour allegedly taking him away.

Two months after the mother moved the Punjab and Haryana High Court alleging that the Mohali District Child Welfare Committee was not even allowing her to breastfeed, the Bench was told that the custody had been handed over to her after the DNA report. The infant was earlier handed over to the committee after he was allegedly stolen from Government Multi-Specialty Hospital, Sector 16, where the mother was being treated for excessive bleeding at the time of delivery.

Seeking directions for the infant’s release from the committee’s custody, the petitioner, through counsel Dhiraj Chawla, had alleged that the panel was “highly insensitive and callous”. It was continuing with the child’s custody, violating in the process the fundamental rights of an infant to have mother’s milk, extremely crucial for his health and immunity.

In her habeas corpus petition, the mother alleged that a neighbour attending to her took away the newborn baby, while she was “intoxicated” under the influence of medicines. She left against medical advice before confronting the neighbour. However, she flatly refused and demanded Rs 30,000 purportedly spent on the petitioner’s treatment.

The petitioner added that the refusal to hand over the child forced her, other neighbours and local residents to block the highway, demanding immediate action. The entire episode was even reported in the local media, following which the neighbour was asked to hand over the child to the committee, despite stiff opposition from the petitioner and the public at large.

Her counsel added that the petitioner had since then been visiting the committee to at least allow her to breastfeed the infant. However, the committee refused on the pretext of the ongoing inquiry to establish the paternity.

As the case came up for resumed hearing, the state counsel described the petition as infructuous as the custody had been handed over to the petitioner. Opposing the submission, her counsel said the respondent-committee be directed to compensate for illegally confining the child.

Turning down the prayer, Justice Ramendra Jain asserted that Surinder Kaur produced the petitioner’s child before the committee, following her complaint. “In the fitness of things, the committee kept the child in its own custody till the petitioner’s DNA test to ascertain the maternity. After receiving the DNA test report, the child’s custody has been handed over to the petitioner. There is no illegality or mala fide intention on the part of the government machinery in retaining the child’s custody, rather he was kept in custody on account of dispute…”

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