MUMBAI: In a significant ruling, the Bombay High Court bench of Justice Manish Pitale at the Nagpur seat on Wednesday held that adoption of children cannot be restricted only to a child in conflict with law or those in need of care and protection or only those children who are orphaned, abandoned or surrendered. The bench said even relatives (paternal and maternal uncles, aunts and even grandparents) can adopt children from within the family.
The bench was dealing with a revision application moved by the biological parents of a minor girl, who was to be adopted by the maternal uncle and aunt. However, a lower court in Yavatmal, where the biological parents lived disallowed the plea filed by the maternal aunt and uncle for adopting the child on the ground that the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) 2015 doesn't allow adoption by relatives.
While dealing with this plea, Justice Pitale observed, "The practice of adoption has been prevalent since ancient time and in different societies the established practices and norms have evolved over a period of time. With the advent of democracy and modern form of government, such customs, traditions and practices have found their way in codified law through statutes enacted by the Legislature."
"While initially adoption was undertaken primarily to continue family lineage and ancestor worship, with passage of time adoption has been undertaken for taking care of the needs of children in distress and those needing care and protection. There are personal laws enacted specifying rules and procedure for adoption, as also secular laws for regulating such procedure," the judge held.
Further the judge referred to various provisions of the JJ Act, 2015 and also the Adoption Regulations framed in 2017. The judge accordingly held, "The laws not only intends to take care of children, who are in conflict with law and children in need of care and protection but also to provide for and regulate adoption of children from relatives and adoption by step-parent," the bench held.
Justice Pitale accordingly held that the lower court erred in giving a finding against the request of the foster parents to adopt the child.
"The term 'relative' in relation to a child for the purpose of adoption under the laws has been specified and limited to paternal uncle or aunt, a maternal uncle or aunt or paternal grandparent or maternal grandparent," the judge noted, adding, "The JJ Act is a secular legislation available for the applicants herein to undertake the process of adoption of the girl child."