20 Nov 2023 4:05 PM GMT
The Supreme Court on Monday (20.11.2023) directed the Secretary in charge of nodal departments responsible for the implementation of the Juvenile Justice (JJ) Act in all States to carry out bi-monthly identification drives to identify children who were orphaned, abandoned, or surrendered so that such children could enter the loop of adoption in India. It was stated that the first of...
The Supreme Court on Monday (20.11.2023) directed the Secretary in charge of nodal departments responsible for the implementation of the Juvenile Justice (JJ) Act in all States to carry out bi-monthly identification drives to identify children who were orphaned, abandoned, or surrendered so that such children could enter the loop of adoption in India. It was stated that the first of these identification drives should be carried out on December 7, 2023.
The bench comprising CJI DY Chandrachud, Justice JB Pardiwala, and Justice Manoj Misra also directed all States and Union Territories (UTs) to ensure the establishment of Specialised Adoption Agencies (SAAs) within every district by January 31 2024. The bench directed the nodal department in charge of implementing the JJ Act to positively communicate compliance of the court's order to the Director or CARA and the Secretary of Ministry of Women and Child Development by January 31, 2024 as well.
The order was passed during the hearing of a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) seeking the simplification of adoption procedures in the country, filed by "The Temple of Healing," a charitable trust. In an earlier hearing in the matter, the Supreme Court had raised serious concerns over the delays in the adoption process and the potential impact on both aspiring parents and children in need of loving homes.
Additional Solicitor General of India Aishwarya Bhati provided with certain suggestions to the bench today to make adoption process in India easier. She asserted that the adoption procedure in the country faced three issues which had to e remedied–
1. The identification of children as orphaned, abandoned, or surrendered and the eventual bringing of the said children in the system;
2. The filling of vacancies in the staffing for State Adoption Resource Agencies (SARA), Specialised Adoption Agencies (SAAs), and District Child Protection Units (DCPUs);
3. The compiling of adequate data so as to channelise children in foster care for adoption.
The ASG highlighted that the Child Adoption Resource Information & Guidance System (CARINGS) portal had registered 33967 Prospective Adoptive Parents (PaPs). However, in a stark contrast, the number of children available for adoption was just 7107, comprising of 5656 children without any special needs and 1451 children with special needs. She added that PaPs had to wait for 3 to 4 years to adopt a "healthy young child" from the system.
It was also pointed out that out of 760 districts in 370 districts, there was no SAA functioning and in the absence of the same, CARA regulations could not be followed.
Accepting the suggestions forwarded by ASG Bhati, the court directed for bi-monthly identification drives and establishment of SAAs in all districts. The bench noted that the directions issued would subserve the process of facilitating identification of children in Child Care Institutions as well as potential children for adoption from the community.
Dr. Piyush Saxena (petitioner-in-person) appeared for the Temple of Healing. He highlighted that as per Section 56(3) of the JJ Act, the JJ Act did not apply to adoptions carried out under the Hindu Adoption and Maintenance Act (HAMA), 1956. He argued that on the ground level, children were not being adopted as the officers in-charge of adoption for juveniles were being too cautious and refusing to allow couples to adopt under HAMA.
Here, ASG Bhati asserted that the process of adoption under HAMA was independent of process under JJ Act. The court agreed with the same and stated that HAMA procedure was not within the jurisdiction of CARA. The bench stated–
"As regards the provisions of HAMA, it has been stated by ASG that process of adoption under HAMA is independent of regulations of CARA. CARA intervenes only when adoption certificate is required by adoptive parent."
Case Title: The Temple of Healing v. Union of India| WP(C) 1003/2021
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