The South Division police on Saturday arrested a 41-year-old lawyer who was allegedly involved in an inter-State baby selling racket that came to light in October last year. Five people, who operated in Mumbai, Chennai and Bengaluru, had been arrested at the time for allegedly purchasing more than 12 babies and selling them to childless couples. The lawyer, Bhanumathi K.P., had been absconding. “She was coordinating between hospitals, childless couples and surrogate mothers,” said a police officer.
He added that Bhanumathi began her career as a divorce lawyer but for the last 11 years has been working for unnamed private hospitals as a legal consultant. “It was her job to prepare a document containing details on surrogacy as per ICMR guidelines, counsel childless couples and prepare documents to make it look like the entire process was legal,” said a police officer.
The gang would identify poor families from across the country, and pay women to be surrogate mothers. They would get their consent on video as well as in writing and ensure that the surrogacy was completed without any hassles. “The accused was paid by various private hospitals but has been on the run ever since the racket was uncovered last year,” the police added.
The arrested accused convinced birth parents to sell their babies for ₹70,000-80,000 depending on the health of the child. Some of the babies were just two months old. Other members of the gang targeted couples visiting IVF centres and struck a deal with couples desperate to have children. They would charge ₹6 lakh to ₹9 lakh and give them fake documents to convince them that the adoption was legal.
“There are more people suspected to be involved in the racket and efforts are on to track them down,” a police officer said.
Incidentally, it was while tracking the theft of a newborn from a civic body-run hospital in Chamarajpet in 2020 that the police uncovered the baby-selling racket.