A couple has filed a habeas corpus petition before the Bombay High Court seeking custody of their adopted son, who was taken away by the state and kept in a children’s home on the basis that they had not followed statutory rules for adoption.
A bench of Justice Ranjit More and Justice S V Kotwal, while hearing the petition, questioned if the Juvenile Justice Act, and provisions of Central Adoption Resource Authority (CARA) regulating intra-country adoptions should have any jurisdiction in the case.
It pointed out that since all parties were Hindus, the adoption fell within the ambit of the Hindu Adoption and Maintenance Act that permits a consenting biological mother to relinquish the rights over her child towards a third party.
The petition has been filed by a Mumbai-based couple stating that while they have a 21-year-old daughter, they had been unsuccessfully trying to have a second child biologically for years. In September 2016, they learnt of a destitute woman wanting to give up her newborn son for adoption. The couple approached the woman through a person known to them all. The woman claimed she was too poor to take care of her son. The couple offered to adopt the child and the woman gave them the boy by signing an adoption deed declaring her consent. However, in December 2016, someone made an anonymous complaint to the police alleging that the petitioners had illegally “bought the child”.
Since then, the child has been kept at a state-run home in Chembur. The state has argued that even if all parties had consented to the adoption, an adoption deed doesn’t suffice and they could not surpass all rules under the Juvenile Justice Act and CARA.
The High Court has now directed the state to take instructions in the matter and will look into the question of whether or not CARA’s adoption rules supersede the Hindu Adoption Act.
The state has informed the petitioners the child is “healthy and doing well” in the home.
The court is likely to hear the matter on July 4.