The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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‘Mother’ denied baby rights
- Hospital staff prevail, family court backtracks on custody verdict

Everything was ready. A dolled-up room with a baby-cot and colourful toys for a special homecoming.

Tandra Guha’s Baguiati address wore a cheerful look on Tuesday morning, ready to welcome four-month-old Sundari.

But by the end of the day, gloom had descended over the happy home, with the family court, that had decreed on Monday that Guha could take the baby home, reversing its judgment.

After three years of despair, having lost her husband and 16-year-old son in quick succession, Guha, 35, had clutched on to a straw of hope — the prospect of adopting the abandoned baby girl and bringing her home from Medical College and Hospital.

But the day after the custody ruling, some Group-D staff members of the hospital, that had been Sundari’s home all through the four months since she had been discovered by a garbage vat in Bowbazar, petitioned the family court.

They were not ready to accept the family court’s decision, granting Guha custody of the baby girl they were bringing up. “Sundari should be brought up by one of us,” they claimed.

When Guha and her lawyer Supradip Roy met family court judge Kajol Saha to take Sundari home on Tuesday morning, she was asked by the judge to meet her in the chamber at 1 pm.

There, magistrate Saha told them that, to “avoid controversy over the process of the transfer”, she had changed her mind and imposed a stay on her own order.

“The judge told us about the representation made by the Group-D staff not to hand over Sundari to an outsider,” lawyer Roy later said.

The judge told them that the staff members had asked her to stay the order so that they could move Calcutta High Court demanding Sundari’s custody.

Roy argued that the revised order of the family court was arbitrary and illegal. The child’s detention by the staff of the hospital was, therefore, unjust. He then moved a habeas corpus petition before the division bench of Justice N.A. Chowdhury and Justice A.K. Bhattacharya.

In the petition, Roy urged the division bench to issue a directive to the family court, so that Sundari could be handed over to Guha, who should be the rightful custodian of the child.

The division bench asked Roy to file the matter through normal procedure. “I hope the case will come up for hearing within a day or two,” said Roy.

Guha refused to give up: “I have enough patience and strength to cope with tragedies. When the court gave me custody of the child, I thought it was a boon in my lonely life… I still have faith in God.”

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