Strict US laws and high legal costs: parents battle odds to regain baby

Debashish and Pamela Saha are struggling to win back the custody of their 11-month-old son Indrashish from the American government, hindered by prohibitive legal costs, the strictness of child protection laws in the US, and the evidence of alleged negligence that has been put up against them.

Debashish Saha, who works with IBM, is on an assignment in the US. He says the baby fell on August 9 and needed a surgery, after which the authorities told him the injuries were too serious to have been caused by a single fall and informed child protection authorities. A New Jersey court found the parents negligent and directed the government to take custody of the baby.

Debashish Saha says he has been trying to get help from Indian authorities in the US, who have taken up the matter. At home, his family has been lobbying for support and the baby's grandparents met the South Dinajpur district magistrate on Tuesday. The next hearing in New Jersey is on Friday.

The court's order, a copy of which has been accessed by The Indian Express, says the medical investigation report has revealed that the baby had suffered a subdural haematoma earlier too. "A CT scan was completed on Indrashish, and it was found that the child had suffered subdural haematoma and was also positive for retinal bleeding as a result of the fall," reads the September 7 order. "The CT scan also showed that Indrashish had suffered a prior subdural haematoma earlier in his life. Pamela Saha reported that Indrashish was on the bed and fell off backwards onto the hardwood floor. Various doctors stated the injuries that Indrashish sustained were not consistent with the explanation that Mr and Mrs Saha gave, but were consistent with Shaken Baby Syndrome. A pending criminal investigation is also being completed by the Morris County Prosecutor's Office."

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