13 April 2023 5:05 AM GMT
The Bombay High Court has set aside an order disallowing a woman from adopting her sister’s child on the ground that she was a single working woman and wouldn’t be able to give personal attention to the child. The judge’s views displayed a medieval conservative mindset on family, the High Court said.Justice Gauri Godse observed that a divorcee or a single parent was eligible to adopt as...
The Bombay High Court has set aside an order disallowing a woman from adopting her sister’s child on the ground that she was a single working woman and wouldn’t be able to give personal attention to the child. The judge’s views displayed a medieval conservative mindset on family, the High Court said.
Justice Gauri Godse observed that a divorcee or a single parent was eligible to adopt as per the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015 and the district court’s job was merely to ascertain, if all necessary criteria were fulfilled.
“Generally, a single parent is bound to be a working person, maybe with some rare exceptions. Thus, by no stretch of the imagination, a single parent can be held to be ineligible to be an adoptive parent on the ground that he/she is a working person.”
The court took strong exception to the comparison between a working woman and housewife, “The comparison done by the Competent Court between the biological mother being a housewife and the prospective adoptive mother (single parent) being a working lady reflects a mindset of the medieval conservative concepts of a family. When the statute recognises a single parent to be eligible for being an adoptive parent, the approach of the Competent Court defeats the very object of the statute.”
It found the district court’s reasons for rejection of the plea “unfounded, illegal, perverse, unjust and unacceptable.”
The court declared the aunt as the minor 4-year-old girl child’s adoptive parent.
The High Court was seized with a Civil Revision Application filed under Section 102 of the JJ Act 2015 challenging the order of a district court in Bhusawal dated 8th March 2022
A housewife, her husband and the housewife’s biological sister had approached the district court under Section 56(2) of the JJ Act read with Rules 51 and 55 of the Adoption Regulations, 2017. The regulations were not superseded by the Adoption Regulations 2022.
The child’s biological parents wanted their daughter to be adopted by the aunt - a 47-year-old teacher, a single divorced woman. They sought for the aunt to be declared as the parent as also modification in the child’s birth records.
They claimed before the High Court that a detailed report was prepared by the District Child Protection Unit and all the necessary verifications regarding the status and health of the prospective parent and the child and the financial condition of the parties was done. But the district judge rejected the application on the erroneous ground that “the prospective parent being a working lady, will not be able to give personal attention to the child per contra the biological parents would be in a better condition to take care of the child.”
Through Advocate NS Shah they argued that the order was contrary to the District Child Protection Unit’s report as well as the pre-approval letter issued by the Central Adoption Resource Authority (CARA).
AGP SB Pulkundwar agreed that all procedures were complied with and therefore submitted that appropriate orders may be passed.
At the outset the court noted that Sub-section (2) of Section 56 of the JJ Act permits the adoption of a child from a relative by another relative irrespective of their religion by following the provision of the JJ Act and the Rules framed.
As per the Rule 55 of the 2017 Rules, for an in-country adoption of a child from a relative the prospective adoptive parent was required to filed affidavit and an application before the competent court, with a consent letter of the biological parents. There is a requirement for online registration. All the conditions were met, the High Court observed.
“…The Competent Court was required to verify whether the statutory requirements were complied with and, after scrutinising the record of the proceedings, form an opinion as to whether the application for adoption was in the interest of the child.” However, the judge had resorted to guesswork, the court noted and quashed the order.
Case Title: Shabnamjahan & Ors. v. State of Maharashtra
Citation: 2023 LiveLaw (Bom) 192
Click Here To Read/Download Order