The Madras High Court bench here on Wednesday directed the dean of the Government Rajaji Hospital (GRH) to submit a report on the steps it proposes to take to overcome the security lapses at the hospital.
A division bench comprising Justices V. Dhanapalan and M. Duraiswamy issued the direction based on a habeas corpus petition filed by T. Meenakshi (19), whose day-old male baby was stolen at the GRH.
The judges also instructed the petitioner’s counsel to submit a report on measures adopted to prevent incidents of child lifting from occurring in the future.
On Wednesday, the State health secretary, home secretary and director general of police submitted their reports on the steps taken so far to avert child lifting from government hospitals in Tamil Nadu.
In his report, Dr. J. Radhakrishnan, the health secretary, submitted that CCTV cameras were installed in government hospitals across the State. Committees to prevent child trafficking were constituted, overseen by the deans, directors and the superintendents of the hospitals.
Visitors were not permitted into the labour ward, and identification bands were strapped around the wrists of the mother and the newborn.
The GRH has 55 CCTV cameras, the highest number in the State, he has submitted. According to the official, GRH records an average of 40 births every day. Security personnel are posted outside the maternity ward, where the newborns are placed.
The government has sanctioned, vide an order dated August 13, 2013, the appointment of 39 security personnel and 48 guards at the GRH especially to monitor the maternity wards round-the-clock. All possible efforts are being made to prevent child lifting in government hospitals, he has submitted.
Home secretary Niranjan Mardi has submitted that 68 witnesses have been examined so far by the special teams constituted to trace the petitioner’s baby.
The CCTV recordings have revealed “the blurred image of an unidentified woman” entering the ward the petitioner had been admitted in and walking away with the baby through the exit meant for the hospital staff.
The Madurai City Commissioner of police has been directed to nominate a sub-division level officer to monitor daily the progress of the investigation and trace the missing infant at the earliest, he has submitted. Forty two newborns have been reported missing from various government hospitals in the State, of which 27 have been traced, the home secretary has submitted.
The director general of police, K. Ramanujam, has submitted that the Madurai City Commissioner of Police has been instructed to intensify his efforts to eradicate child trafficking.
The judges recorded their appreciation for the efforts taken by the officials to control child lifting in the State.