Observing that "by the process of adoption, the child is transplanted into the family of his natural father and step-mother thereby creating a permanent parent-child relationship," the Karnataka High Court recently declared a stepmother as the legally adoptive mother of the minor child and the couple as parents of a minor child for all legal purposes.
When the minor was barely a year old, his mother, wife of petitioner No.1 (biological father) passed away on 7.02.2010 in a road accident. Thereafter, petitioner No.1 married petitioner No.2 on 23.11.2012. Since then, she has looked after the minor as her own child and wished to recognize her as the legal mother by way of adoption of the minor child.
The couple thus approached the trial under sections 56 and 61 of The Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Child) Act, 2015 r/w Regulation 52(4) and 55(2) of the Adoption Regulations, 2017, seeking a declaration that the petitioner no 2 is the adoptive parents of the minor child. However, the court by its order dated October 14, 2019, rejected their petition.
The main reason for the rejection cited by the court was that when the biological father who is petitioner No.1 is capable to take care of his son, the appointment of petitioner No.2 as an adoptive parent of the said is not necessary."
In the High Court, a bench of Justice John Michael Cunha, on consideration of the provisions of Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act 2015 and Adoption Regulations, 2017, held that :
"These provisions do not prescribe any bar on the step-parent to adopt the child or children of one of the biological parents. It only requires scrupulous compliance of the procedure contemplated under the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015 and Adoption Regulations, 2017 and requires the Court to satisfy itself that the various conditions stipulated under section 61 of the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015 and Regulation 52 and 56 of Adoption Regulations, 2017, as the case may be, are followed before issuing an adoption order."
It added :
"The jurisdiction of the court and the safe-guards that are required to be followed by the persons intending to adopt the child are clear and well-defined and there is no scope for the court to interpret any of these legal provisions."
On the reasoning given by the trial court to reject the petition the high court said, "This view is opposed to Regulations 52 and 55 (Adoption Regulation), which not only permits the step-parent to take the child in adoption, but also lays down the procedure for adoption by a stepparent. When the formalities contemplated under the Regulations have been duly followed, there was no reason for the learned Judge to reject the application on the specious reasoning that during the lifetime of a natural parent, it is not necessary to give the child in adoption to the step-parent."
It added "This adoption is in the best interest and welfare of the child for the reason that in case petitioner No.1 becomes indisposed of or otherwise unable to look after the minor child, the child would have a legal parent or guardian and would not be rendered 'orphan'. This is precisely the object of the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015."
The bench concluded by saying "In the case on hand, the child himself having expressed his wish to live with his step-mother and the scrutiny report of the Karnataka State Council for Child Welfare, there was absolutely no reason for the learned trial Judge to reject the petition on the ground that when the biological father is able to look after the minor and petitioner No.2 being a step-mother, petitioners are not entitled for the adoption of the minor."
Cause Title: BALAKRISHNA GOTTIPATI
Case No: WRIT PETITION NO.511 OF 2020
Date of Order: 30TH DAY OF SEPTEMBER 2020
Coram: JUSTICE JOHN MICHAEL CUNHA
Advocate KARAN JOSEPH, AND Amicus Curiae Ms. SYEDA SABA,
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