In view of the backlog of adoption cases across the country, the Ministry of Women and Child Development is examining a proposal to set up dedicated benches in all high courts for handling such cases expeditiously.
The ministry is currently holding consultations with Supreme Court judge Justice Madan Lokur in order to study the possibility of having high court benches solely for handling adoption cases. The move comes in the wake of constant delays faced by couples, based both in India and abroad, in district and family courts.
According to officials, India, along with China, sees the most number of inter-country adoptions. As of today, the Central Adoption Resource Authority (CARA) has a waitlist of 15,000 applicants wanting to adopt a child.
A ministry official said this is part of the efforts to streamline the working of CARA. “Justice Lokur has handled some of the CARA cases in the Supreme Court, which is why we are working out the details of the proposed set-up with him. With the help of the Supreme Court, we are trying to set up a bench earmarked in all high courts that will have concurrent jurisdiction with district and family courts. If the lower courts don’t clear the adoption cases in time, then the person can get relief after approaching the high court bench that will complete the process within a period of two months,” said a ministry official.
As per the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection) Act, 2015, the final order allowing an adopted child to be taken out of the court is passed by the district court or family court. Officials said the inordinate delays at the level of the lower courts is distressing for those based abroad wanting to adopt a child from India. “Many of the judges are not aware of all the laws and regulations governing adoptions in India. We have, therefore, come out with a bench-book on adoptions and circulated it amongst judges in all states as also the National Legal Services Authority of India.”
As part of streamlining exercise, the ministry is also set to circulate the rule-book to Foreign Adoptive Agencies (FAAs) and provide assistance to those who want to adopt from India. “We have received a lot of complaints, particularly from the United States, about the FAAs not providing adequate services,” the official said.