MUMBAI: Expressing shock over the callous attitude of the police and Child welfare commission (CWC) the Bombay High court on Wednesday reunited five minor children with their guardians after they were kept in a remand home for over two months.
The division bench of Justice V M Kanade and P D Kode was hearing a habeas corpus petition filed by Sushila Jain, seeking custody of her grandchildren. The petition alleged that her step daughter, Smita Modi, filed a false trespassing case to first get her and her daughter, Suneeta Sharma, arrested and while they were getting a bail, Mrs Modi forcibly took the children to Azad Maidan police station and the police later sent them to Dongri remand home.
The six children, Mrs Jain’s maternal granddaughter (4), paternal grandson (13), two children of her uncle’s son (12, 10) and two children of her deceased servant (7, 5) had come to Mumbai to celebrate Christmas. “They were here on vacation but were snatched from us and we were made to run from pillar to post to produce evidence that they were ours,” Ms Jain said. The ladies and six children stayed in a flat in south Mumbai owned by Ms Jain’s deceased husband and her step daughter claimed ownership to the property.
“After over a month I could only free my four-year old biological daughter and they asked me to apply for legal guardian ship for all the other children,” Ms Sharma said. The children who had come from Bangalore with Mrs Jain’s daughter Suneeta Sharma have been in her custody and care, however not legally adopted.
“We don’t believe that policemen can act in such a heartless manner…A lady brings six small children to you, what steps do you take to check the guardian of the children or the intention of the lady?” The division bench of justices V M Kanade and P D Kode said. Granting the custody to the petitioners the court ordered an inquiry into the matter saying that “this conduct (of police) indicates that the officer is sold out.”
The lawyer for CWC tried to explain the situation by stating the lack of documents that proved the legal guardianship of the five children; however the court asked them what authority the Police had to send children to CWC with out checking for their guardian. Snubbing the Child Welfare Committee (CWC) for its lack of empathy justice Kode said, “We are surprised that the CWC representative is still vehemently justifying their stand.”
“How could the police send the kids to a remand home without proper, this is absolute high—handedness…We are going to direct the government to take action against the investigating officer,” the court said.