Concerned over a large number of adoption cases pending in courts across the country, the Centre has written to Chief Justice of India on the need to sensitise judges. Maneka Gandhi-led Women and Child Development Ministry has also suggested a slew of measures in order to hasten the legal process. “Courts are going beyond the scope of Juvenile Justice Act and have imposed several conditions which are not in the best interest of the children and adoptive parents,” says the letter to CJI J S Khehar.
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The letter was referring to several controversial orders in the recent past. Earlier this month, a Madras High Court judge ordered adoptee parents to donate Rs one lakh to a local school. A district court in Burdwan recently ordered parents to produce a child before it at regular intervals of 3-6 months till the child turned 18 while a family court in Guna asked adoptee parents to deposit a sum of Rs five lakh in the account of the child they were adopting.
Experts argue that requiring parents to give a financial undertaking or produce a child before a court at periodic intervals is unnecessary because Specialised Adoption Agencies are mandated to carry out a Home Study Report to determine emotional and financial eligibility of prospective parents.
“Imposing unreasonable pre-conditions along with delays by courts will discourage people from adopting a child through the legal method. Genuine parents will be forced to explore informal or illegal methods for bringing home a child,” said CEO, Central Adoption Resource Authority, Deepak Kumar. The letter also requests for a dedicated day for hearing of adoption cases across benches.
In large districts, where the district court may not be located close by, the ministry wants adjoining family courts to have concurrent powers in adoption matters. In order to make the legal process easier for foreign nationals it has been suggested that the High Court of a particular state must dedicate a bench for inter-country adoption.
Nearly 800 adoption cases are pending in various courts across the country. Of these, approximately 150 cases have not been resolved for over a year. As per JJ Act 2016, courts must dispose off a case within two months.
Ever since adoption was regulated and its rules revised in 2015, the central adoption body has registered a decline in annual adoption rate. The adoption numbers have dropped by 40 per cent in six years from 6,321 in 2010 to 3,677 in 2016.