The High Court of Jharkhand has granted provisional bail to a Missionaries of Charity nun, Sister Concelia, who was jailed on allegations of child trafficking 15 months ago. Sister Concelia Baxla was arrested by police in July 2018 following an allegation that she sold a baby born to an unwed mother under her care.
On September 27, 2019, the Ranchi high court granted provisional bail to the sister on presenting a bail bond of 10,000 rupees with two sureties of the same amount. The court also ordered her to surrender her passport and not to change her residence in Ranchi without seeking permission from the court.
Last year, the Jharkhand police had arrested a woman and detained two nuns of Missionaries of Charity running ‘Nirmal Hriday’ – a shelter home for destitute women, a trust founded by Nobel laureate Mother Teresa, for allegedly selling the infants born to unwed mothers at the institution.
The case of child trafficking at the Nirmal Hriday shelter home is to be heard after 4 months. Representing the nun, advocate Chandan Kumari contended that Sister Baxla should get bail as there were no direct charges against her. She was arrested on July 4, 2018, and has remained in the jail since then after Rupa Verma, chairperson of the Child Welfare Committee (CWC) in Ranchi lodged a complaint against the charity organisation for alleged child trafficking.
Following the child trafficking allegations, Nirmal Hriday was raided and the 13 pregnant women residing there at that time were shifted. 22 children residing there were also shifted to other state-run shelter homes. The Jharkhand police had later stated that all the four infants sold by the organisations have been rescued.
Verma mentioned in her appeal to police that a childless couple from UP had filed a complaint that they paid $2000 to Anima Indwar, a staff member of the orphanage managed by Sister Concelia. The couple were promised that they would be given a baby boy but Indwar reneged on her promise. The prosecution lawyer asserted that Indwar was arrested soon thereafter but she was later released on bail. Police claimed that they recovered 65,000 rupees from Indwar that the couple allegedly paid to her. Indwar has reportedly already got bail.
It is noteworthy to mention that Sister Concelia had been denied bail by both high court and the Supreme Court. Last year in October, the high court refused to grant her bail on the premise that the investigation into the activities of her congregation could be hindered if she was released. The apex court too denied her bail on January 29, 2019, reasoning that the police had not yet pressed charges in the case.