The Rajasthan high court ruled on Saturday that a five-month-old infant, who had been given up by his parents to an influential self-styled religious leader for adoption, was to be returned to the custody of his parents.
The court was responding to a writ petition filed by the child's grandfather on July 20, in which he had contended that giving the child to the religious leader would not be in the boy's interest.
The parents had given the baby, Mulkraj Purohit, for adoption to him on July 23 at a function held at an ashram which was attended by Madhya Pradesh government officials. The self-styled religious leader, Rameshwar Dayal aka Chhote Sarkar of the Dada Durbar ashram in Khandwa, named the boy Anant Dayal and declared him his successor. However, the grandparents challenged the adoption in court, alleging that the saint was a 'tantrik' and wanted to sacrifice the child.
Reacting to Saturday's judgment, the grandfather, RP Purohit, told mediapersons, "We are happy that the child will be in the family and can be brought up in a way better than if he were raised by Dayal. In the last seven days, the child has lost weight and suffered from vomiting and diarrhoea. If this is his condition now, what would happen if he stayed there permanently?"
The parents, who are devoted followers of Dayal, told reporters that he had asked them for their child and they had given the infant to him willingly. The child's father, Pawan Purohit, is a businessman and his mother, Dr Puja Purohit, is a lecturer.
"We had explained our decision to our parents that we wanted to give the child because he would have a good future. Swamiji told us he would take care of the baby's upbringing and education. I don't know why our parents are now making false allegations against the swamiji," Puja said.
The court had asked the parents to produce the child on Friday, but he could not appear, due to which the hearing was deferred to Saturday and judge Bela M Trivedi held a hearing in the case despite the court usually being closed on Saturdays. On Saturday, the child, crying and wrapped in a towel, was brought to the court by his mother.
Dayal's advocate contended in court that the adoption was legal and the writ petition filed by the grandparents was not maintainable, but this argument was dismissed by the court.
Purohit's advocate, Shankar Sharma, said, "The court has held the adoption to be null and void. In its interim order, the court gave custody of the child to his parents and gave visitation rights to both sets of grandparents." He said a hearing in the case will take place after four weeks.