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Court comes down heavily on WCD over adoption exercise

Court comes down heavily on WCD over adoption exercise

New Delhi: A Delhi court came down heavily on the Ministry of Women and Child Development (WCD) for making adoptive parents travel from distant places to the national capital to complete the adoption exercise.

Compelling proposed adoptive parents to travel to Delhi from distant places "militates" against the basic philosophy that it is the duty of the state to ensure every parentless child gets parent, the court said.

District Judge Girish Kathpalia directed the Central Adoption Resource Authority (CARA) to submit an action taken report on whether petitions for adoption can be filed in the court within whose territorial jurisdiction the adoptive parents and the child, who is in foster care, reside so that they did not have to travel to Delhi.

The court, in its order, noted that there were cases where the child was physically challenged or the adoptive parent was a single mother but they had to travel to the national capital from distant places to testify.

The court directed the director of CARA to submit the report within a month and put the matter for further hearing on October 10.

It also said that previously CARA opted not to assist the court despite the seriousness of the issue and hence asked the secretary of the Ministry of Women and Child development to take necessary actions.

The court, however, took note of the fact that it would be financially onerous on the adoption agencies to file petitions in the court within the territorial jurisdiction concerned.

"Under the pretext that proceeding with adoption matters in the courts within whose territorial jurisdiction proposed adoptive parents reside would be expensive for adoption agencies, the basic philosophy underlying the concept of adoption under the Act (to provide parent to every parentless child) cannot be abrogated.

"But the court has to adopt a positivist approach of law and has to ensure strict adherence to the laid down law.... At the same time, I also find it opportune to express disappointment that despite such seriousness of the issue, CARA opted not to respond and assist this court," the judge said. The court said that since the regulations have been framed and can be amended only by CARA (unless suitable amendments in the enactment are contemplated by the legislature), it was necessary that the issue be brought to the notice of higher authorities.

"Situations were found where the proposed adoptive parents and the child under pre -adoption foster care, who are residing in far away places, have to come to Delhi to testify in order to obtain adoption orders, and in some such cases the proposed adoptive child is even physically challenged and the proposed adoptive parent is a single mother....

"There are number of cases where the child concerned is a special needs child (who was given in pre adoption foster care), is made to travel from far away places of country to Delhi (or whichever place where the adoption petitions are filed) because the proposed adoptive parents at the nascent stage of emotional bonding with the child do not want to leave the child alone at home and travel to Delhi. "There are also cases where single women opt to come forward for adoption but have to travel from far away distant places," it said.

Adoption Regulations, 2017, provided that the Specialized Adoption Agency shall file an application for adoption order in the court having jurisdiction over the place where it was located, said the court.

"Hence, the crux of the legal position is that an application for the adoption order has to be filed only in that court within whose territorial jurisdiction the adoption agency was located.

"The compulsion for the proposed adoptive parents to travel to Delhi from far away places militates against the basic philosophy that it is the duty of the State to ensure that every parentless child gets parent," it said. As it is the duty of the State "to ensure that every orphaned and/or abandoned and/or surrendered child must get a family", it is the State which has to ensure, irrespective of financial considerations, that people are encouraged to take a child in adoption. It added the court has to adopt a positivist approach of law and has to ensure strict adherence to the laid down law. PTI

Usha Rani Das

Usha Rani Das

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