The Bombay High Court in a significant ruling, allowed an adoption petition filed by one Mathew Inacio Abreo, a 66-year-old man who sought adoption of Malaica Abreo, a 22-year-old girl who was raised by Mathew and his wife Dora.
Justice GS Kulkarni declared the petitioner as the adoptive parent of Malaica and granted him liberty to apply before Municipal Authorities to issue a Birth Certificate of Malaica Maria Abreo born on June 16, 1997 and showing the petitioner Mathew and (late) Dora Abreo as her father and mother.
In 1998, the petitioner and his wife Dora had filed a guardian petition. By an order dated March 11, 1998 the said petition was allowed, whereby the petitioner and his wife were appointed as guardians of Malaica who has not even 2 years old at the time and today she is about 22 years old.
Petitioner's counsel Rakesh Kapoor submitted that Malaica has throughout remained under the guardianship of the petitioner since 1998 and if adoption as prayed for by the petitioner is not granted, it will cause a serious prejudice to Malaica in as much as she would be deprived of her legitimate entitlement to the legal status to have the petitioner as her parent and would be foisted with a status of being an orphan, although she was brought up by the petitioner as his own daughter.
In support to his contention, Kapoor relied upon the decision of Justice FI Rebello, (as he then was) in the case of Manuel Theodore Vs. Unknown reported in 2000, to contend that it would be necessary requirement to recognize a constitutional right of a citizen to have a family and parents in adoption. Kapoor further submitted that the legislative vacuum in case of adoption when a citizen professes Christian faith was recognized in the said decision of Justice Rebello.
The petitioner lives in Santacruz and has no other biological children. Dora, his wife passed away in 2018 after suffering from a heart attack.
Court noted that there is a adoption home study and follow-up visit report dated October 1, 2019 conducted by the social worker Ms. Clipsy Banji, BA, MSW, PGPDM, which records that petitioner is a committed father to Malaica. It records that his family comes from a very humble background, having good moral values. The report records that in the last month petitioner was with cancer of the pancreas and is undergoing chemotherapy at the Holy Spirit Hospital in Andheri. It is also recorded that due to the medical treatment, he stays with his sister at Andheri in Mumbai as it is convenient for him to travel and rest.
The report states that petitioner and Malaica share a loving relationship with one another. It is also stated that the petitioner who is now ailing needs his daughter's support, love and affection at this crucial time.
Whereas, the follow-up report dated October 1, 2019 for Malaica states that she is an active, smart and bright young girl. She was told about her adoptive status when she was in the 6th standard and from then she has accepted her reality in a matured manner. She has completed her graduation in B.Sc and from the last one year has been employed as a Key Accounts Executive (Sales )with Aspri Spirits Pvt. Ltd. She is happy to work and establish her own finances and loves the feeling of being economically independent even as she supports her ailing father, report states.
After examining the facts at hand, Justice Kulkarni noted-
"Malaica is now well integrated into the petitioner's family and is an inextricable part of the petitioner's family. Defacto she has a status of being petitioner's daughter. In my opinion mere guardianship being conferred on the petitioner would certainly not suffice and it has lost its efficacy as Malaica is now a major.
In the facts of the case Malaica is definitely in requirement of being conferred a legal status of being the daughter of the petitioner. Malaica has to lead her life with dignity and confidence which she would be able do when the petitioner's right to adopt her is recognized and reciprocally Malaica's right to be adopted by the petitioner also finds a legal recognition. It is thus necessary that these basic human rights as guaranteed and recognized by the Constitution are enforced and implemented. Hence it is imperative to permit adoption of Malaica by the petitioner even when Malaica has now attained majority by applying the principles as laid down by this court in the case of Manuel Theodore."
After interacting with Malaica Justice Kulkarni observed that she was eagerly awaiting legal recognition of her status as the petitioner's daughter. Thus, the petition was allowed.
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