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No home for Karishma

delhi Updated: Oct 21, 2010 00:14 IST
Nivedita Khandekar
Nivedita Khandekar
Hindustan Times
Highlight Story

With her heart filled with hope, Ritu Arthur Fredrick attended the hearing at the Delhi High Court on Wednesday. But her wait for welcoming Karishma into her family has extended further.

It was on July 26, when Fredrick saved Karishma, barely hours after she was born on a busy street in Shanker Market. The child's destitute mother died a week later. HT had highlighted on August 29 how Fredrick cleaned and fed Karishma regularly. She named her Karishma (Hindi for miracle). When the destitute woman died, police sent Karishma to an adoption agency home.

Legal hassles
Fredrick's attachment with the child grew so much that she convinced her sister-in-law Bhawna to adopt Karishma. However, the adoption might not be easy owing to the strong provisions of Juvenile Justice Act 2000. The child's case is now being investigated by the Child Welfare Committee (South District) to declare it as "legally free for adoption".

Court Intervention
After taking suo moto cognisance of the HT report, the court during the first hearing of the Public Interest Litigation in September, had allowed Fredrick to visit the child thrice a week.
Karishma, since lodged in the foster home, was in-and-out of hospital for quite some time.

Amicus Curiae's Report
The court had appointed Colin Golsalves as amicus curiae in the case, who in turn appointed Sanjai Sharma, a health rights activist, Francesca Feruglio, a human rights law activist, and advocate Jayshree Satpute, reproductive rights lawyer, to carry out fact finding on the circumstances.
Apart from several observations about Karishma's mother Laxmi, Gonsalves' report observed, "as a direct consequence of her lack of access to healthcare and of the violations of her reproductive rights, the life of her child (Karishma) is under severe threat" and demanded adequate compensation for the girl.

The wait continues
On Wednesday when the bench of chief justice Dipak Misra and justice Manmohan directed Delhi government standing counsel Najmi Waziri to ensure that five shelter homes are earmarked in the city "exclusively" for destitute pregnant women, there was no word about future of Fredrick and Karishma.