The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Fairy-tale twist to vat baby life

Gulu, abandoned at birth and left to die in a vat on the streets of Burrabazar, is headed for the lap of luxury.

On Wednesday, the principal judge of the city’s family court declared the one-year-old “abandoned” and asked the lawyer of Nirmala Soni and Ashok Soni to furnish the written consent of his clients that they were ready to take on guardianship of the child.

According to lawyer Supradip Roy, Ashok Soni is a businessman in Rajasthan, with “landed property valued at over Rs 26 crore”.

The baby, picked up from a pavement of north Calcutta, will be handed over to the Sonis on Thursday, following submission of the necessary papers before the court, Roy added.

“Ashok Soni has already given me his written consent. I will produce the same before the court on Thursday,” the lawyer explained.

This could mark a fairy-tale twist to a tale that had begun in dark despair on April 22, 2003.

That morning, residents of the Rabindra Sarani area discovered the baby boy in a garbage vat. They rescued the abandoned child and handed him over to the local police station.

With no one coming forward to claim parenthood, police produced the infant before a judge of the city civil court, who sent the child to Matri Mangal Seva Pratisthan, on Rabindra Sarani.

Gulu is growing up in the hospital for destitute children, as the court had directed the authorities to keep the child in their custody till parental identity was established.

The tale of the abandoned baby, carried by The Telegraph, caught the eye of Nirmala Soni’s parents. They contacted their 28-year-old daughter, who wanted to adopt a child.

Nirmala and husband Ashok came to Calcutta four months ago and sought custody of the baby boy.

But, as per the new Juvenile Justice Act, only the juvenile justice board is empowered to grant custody of any abandoned child.

And no one can demand parental right over a child unless he or she has been declared “abandoned and destitute” by the court.

A petition was moved by lawyer Roy on behalf of the Sonis before the principal judge of the family court on Wednesday. Judge Arun Kumar Das declared the baby abandoned and destitute, paving the way for Gulu to find a new home and a new life.

“Now, there is no legal bar to Gulu making his way to Rajasthan,” claimed the lawyer.

“The couple is at present staying in Calcutta and Nirmala is spending almost all her days at Matri Mangal with Gulu,” revealed Roy.

According to the lawyer, at least 10 couples with the wish to adopt Gulu were in constant touch with the Matri Mangal authorities. “But the future of the child is safest in the guardianship of the Sonis,” he added.

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