Friday 23 August 2019

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Goa's civil code disallows adoption

 

Unearthing a racket of selling new-born babies by reputed doctors in Goa has thrown light on altogether different issue, which is the prime cause of such illegal acts. The former Portuguese colony, which still practices the Portuguese Common Civil Code, does not allow legal adoptions.

As invention is mother of necessity, the gynaecologists here invented a method of issuing "legal" birth certificates to the needy childless parents while handing over new-born abandoned babies from their maternity homes, giving legal right to the child and his/her family.

Since the whole deal needs to be kept top secret, many "reputed" doctors also seized the opportunity to make money out of it, by selling these babies to the parents, who cannot have biological issue. On the other hand, they were also charging heavy fees for deliveries of unwed mothers, while the maternity homes were taking "care" of the abandoned child later.

Bailancho Saad, a women's organisation, brought one such scandalous act to light with the help of crime branch of Goa police, by laying a trap. One of their member pretended to be a needy mother and bought a 24-day old baby from Dr Ajay Kudchadkar, paying him Rs 15,000, along with a "legal" birth certificate.

"What is wrong if we hand over such abandoned children to the needy parents on humanitarian grounds in absence of the adoption law in Goa", asks Dr Kudchadkar, while denying charges of selling the child. "Even we have no objection, provided it is no business and proper procedures are followed", quips advocate Albertina Almeida, the Saad activist.

But there are no procedures laid down even for a foster care, which is allowed as per the Family Laws of the Portuguese Common Civil Code. Those who take children for foster care then eventually change child's surname by officially publishing it in the state gazette and then claim for a new birth certificate, claiming that the original one is lost.

Articles 10 and 11 of the Family Laws allow adoptions, but only among the Hindus, the concession given by the then Portuguese rulers to inherit the family property. But such an adoption is allowed only in absence of a legitimate issue, for only one male and that too from among the close relatives. Second adoption is prohibited.

The redundant Portuguese law does not allow adoptions by Goan parents even done outside the state as per the laws prevalent there. One such person from the legal field (name withheld on request) lost a case in the local court, denying him right to adopt a child, which he had adopted in Maharashtra as per the provisions of Hindu Law there.

"In fact Goa needs to immediately combine Supreme Court guidelines on adoption with the local laws, laying down proper procedure for legal adoptions", feels Anjali Viegas, an activist in the field of adoption. "Of course the best remedy is to change the existing law to allow adoptions", she adds.

But the question of following Supreme Court guidelines does not occur since adoption is not allowed here. State law minister Kashinath Jalmi, who is fully in favour of the demand, is also helpless since law of inheritance is a central subject while Goa Assembly is not authorised to change the existing Portuguese Common Civil Code.

While assuring to take up the matter with the centre immediately, Jalmi is now planning to codify the Portuguese Common Civil Code and seek the right of changing it by the state Assembly. "The code has many outdated provisions which needs to be amended", he says.






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