HC eases adoption norms for Hindu, Sikh NRIs
In a judgment which paves way for child adoption by Indian diaspora from the country, Punjab and Haryana high court has held that NRIs applying under the Hindu Adoption and Maintenance Act (HAMA)-1956 don’t have to undergo the rigorous process set under Central Adoption Resource Authority (CARA).
The high court bench of justice Jaishree Thakur also held that for adoption covered under the personal law — applicable to Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists and Jains — within the country, the adoptee won’t even need the CARA certification. There is no personal law for adoption by Muslims.
CARA is a statutory body for adoption of Indian children and is mandated to monitor and regulate in-country and inter-country adoptions. CARA was established under the Juvenile Justice Act (JJA)-2015 after the Hague Convention on Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption. Under CARA, adoption can be made by person of any belief.
The ruling was delivered in a plea wherein a two-year-old girl adopted by an NRI couple was denied passport. Born as one of the twins to a Jalandhar couple in 2017, she was adopted by her natural mother’s NRI sister as per Sikh rites performed at a local gurdwara for which a certificate was also issued. In November 2018, they signed an adoption deed under HAMA, following which the adoptive parents applied for the girl’s passport, but it was rejected by authorities stating that a no-objection certificate (NOC) from CARA was mandatory, said the family’s lawyer Sukhwinder Singh Nara.
The court said Section 56 (3) of the JJA stipulates that the provisions of the law shall not apply to adoption of children under HAMA. The said adoption cannot be challenged on the ground that the same should have been made under JJA, which itself states that a valid adoption of a minor child under HAMA is irreversible and cannot be revoked, the bench said.
The bench observed that JJA was formulated for protection of such children who are found to be in conflict with law or require rehabilitation and that its provisions can’t be invoked for adoption directly given by natural parents.
The bench said the passport authorities could not have questioned the validity of the registered adoption deed in the application. To meet the requirement of passport authorities, CARA is simply required to issue an NOC, taking note of the fact that the adoption has been done under HAMA.
The court has also directed CARA to issue an NOC within two weeks and the external affairs ministry to grant passport in another two weeks.
“Adoption under the Hague convention is a tedious process and takes years. An applicant has to apply in their country and then after studies and various evaluations, matches are found. It takes almost two years and lakhs of rupees. This judgment helps those NRIs who have relatives in India and want to adopt from here,” said Anil Malhotra, who was amicus curiae in this case.