The Supreme Court. (HT archive)
The Supreme Court. (HT archive)

Stop illegal adoption of kids orphaned by Covid: SC to states, UTs

Passing a slew of directions on a suo motu petition with regard to protection of rights of children affected by the pandemic, the bench said, “The state governments/Union Territories are directed to take action against those NGOs/individuals who are indulging in illegal adoptions
By Abraham Thomas
PUBLISHED ON JUN 08, 2021 03:00 PM IST

The Supreme Court has directed states and Union Territories to stop illegal adoption of children who were orphaned or abandoned during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Passing a slew of directions on a suo motu petition with regard to protection of rights of children affected by the pandemic, a bench of justices L Nageswara Rao and Aniruddha Bose said, “The state governments/Union Territories are directed to take action against those NGOs/individuals who are indulging in illegal adoptions.”

The court was informed about adoption posts circulating on various social media platforms amid the pandemic that saw several children lose either one or both their parents.

The problem of illegal adoption was brought to the attention of the court by the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR). The commission received complaints where the identity of the affected children was disclosed in public announcements by agencies and individuals inviting interested persons to adopt them. Such adoption routes were in violation of the Juvenile Justice Act which prescribes adoption through Central Adoption Resource Authority (CARA).

An application filed by NGO ‘We the Women of India’ informed the court about adoption requests on social media, which, upon enquiry by the NGO, were found to be fake. The NGO through advocate Shobha Gupta stressed the need for immediate action to be taken by states and UTs to stop the circulation of such posts on social media and take stringent action against persons responsible for making such posts.

The bench directed all states/UTs to prevent any NGO from collecting funds in the names of affected children by disclosing their identity and inviting interested persons to adopt them. “Stringent action shall be taken by the state governments/Union Territories against agencies/individuals who are responsible for indulging in this illegal activity. Invitation to persons for adoption of orphans is contrary to law as no adoption of a child can be permitted without the involvement of CARA.

Among other orders given by the court, the states and UTs were directed to ensure continuation of education of children affected by Covid-19 in both government and private schools. The directions came on a similar suggestion by amicus curiae advocate Gaurav Agrawal.

The bench said, “The state governments/Union Territories are directed to make provisions for continuance of education of the children both in Government as well as in private schools.”

On June 1, the Supreme Court had directed states to identify children who were abandoned, orphaned or lost one of their parents during Covid-19 since March 2020 by uploading the information on a website “Bal Swaraj” run by NCPCR. On June 6, NCPCR informed the court that there are 30,071 such children of which 3,621 lost both parents, 26,176 lost one, and 274 were abandoned.

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