The Supreme Court on Monday issued notice on a plea seeking a direction to the Centre for improving the number of adoptions in the country and also a direction to the Ministry of Women and Child Development to make adoption procedures simple, and digitszing the registration of orphans.
The plea filed by organisation The Temple of Healing, through its Secretary Piyush Saxena, said adoptions are low in India due to multiple reasons. He noted that 4,000 children are adopted in the country every year but there are over 3 crore orphans in the country.
During the course of hearing, Justice D.Y. Chandrachud recalled an inter-country adoption case which he dealt with as a judge of Bombay High Court. He said that the child was given for inter country adoption, later some other parents adopted him, but he couldn't settle down with any parent.
There are situations of abuse, but the need is to tighten up those areas, so that there is no abuse, he said.
After hearing Saxena, the petitioner-in-person, the bench, also comprising Justice Surya Kant, said it is a genuine petition and it will issue notice in the matter.
The plea said: "The outlook on orphans in India is that they belong in orphanages. Moreover, there is a stigma that hovers over adoption in India because it indicates infertility among the adopting couple. Indian culture places high value on ideas of fertility and family, disregarding scientific evidence that points otherwise."
Citing the outdated adoption laws, the plea added: "Technically, there is only one relevant adoption law in India – the adoption regulations of 2017 based on the Juvenile Justice (JJ) Act of 2015 and Juvenile Justice (JJ) Rules of 2016. However, there are many old religious practices, sometimes useful and sometimes not so useful, that further complicate matters by adding to interpretation."
Citing lack of financing for background checks, the plea said: "Unfortunately, there's no official financing available for these background checks, and the orphanage directors certainly cannot afford it. By some estimates, it would cost more than Rs 100 crore to run such background checks for every orphaned child in orphanages alone."
The plea added that currently, a child can be legally free for adoption only after a newspaper advertisement, and no claim for 60 days. The government advertises once in a year or when they have "enough", say 5-6 children to save on costs, it contended.
The plea said: "When potential parents look to adopt, they fill out a form stating what a 'perfect match' for them will be (e.g. a male baby with no medical issues and light skin, for instance). The Central Adoption Resource Authority (CARA) of India doesn't have a department or agency to follow up with prospective parents on these matches. Without a division to follow up, CARA doesn't have the means to check if these parents would be interested in adopting a child that does not 'exactly' meet the original specifications.'
The plea sought a direction to the Ministry of Women and Child Development to introduce a scheme for orphan adoption document preparers, and reduce the number of pages of the home study report schedule VII to reduce paperwork to make the adoption process simple and corruption free.20220411-183804