The Nagpur bench of the Bombay High Court has held that adoption cannot be restricted to children who have been orphaned, abandoned or those in conflict with law, and cited that the Juvenile Justice Act permits adoption of children of relatives.
A single bench of Justice Manish Pitale on Wednesday made the observation while hearing a petition filed by a couple seeking to adopt their minor niece. The couple was the maternal uncle and aunt of the child, and the parents had agreed to the adoption.
The couple had approached the High Court after the district court of Yavatmal rejected their plea on the ground that the child was not an orphan, in conflict with law, abandoned by parents or in need of care and protection.
Justice Pitale noted that the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act not only intends to take care of children who are in conflict with law and those in need of care and protection, but also to provide for and regulate adoption of children from relatives and adoption by a step-parent.
The court noted that in the present case, the petitioners were the maternal uncle and aunt of the child, and hence, are covered in the definition of "relative" under the Act.
"Under the scheme of the Juvenile Justice Act and the regulations, adoption of children cannot be restricted only to children in conflict with law or those in need of care and protection or only those who are orphaned, abandoned or surrendered by their parents," the court said in its judgment.
Justice Pitale quashed and set aside the order passed by the lower court and directed it to consider the application filed by the couple afresh as expeditiously as possible.
The High Court, in its order, noted that while initially adoption was undertaken primarily to continue family lineage and ancestor worship, with passage of time, adoption has been undertaken to address the needs of children in distress and those in need of care and protection.
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