A minor, who was abandoned by her parents in 2004 at the age of two, has seen a ray of hope as a Delhi court has allowed her 60-year-old guardian to adopt the child despite "procedural deficiencies" as the two nurtured a strong mother-daughter bond.
District Judge Girish Kathpalia said it would be in the best interest of the child that she be given in adoption to the woman, who has been taking care of her for more than a decade as her appointed guardian.
The strong bond shared by the girl, now 16, and the woman who was made her guardian by an adoption society, which was taking care of the child, convinced the court to allow the elderly's plea for adoption.
The court noted that since the woman and the child have cultivated and nurtured a strong mother-daughter bond for about a decade and a half, directing her now to move the adoption application before the society, followed by the home and child study report, would be a "meaningless exercise".
"Petitioner (elderly) has been affording good education to the child, who is her only responsibility. The child is happily settled with her," the court said.
This bond was further able to convince the court after Justice Kathpalia's interaction with the child.
Taking note of his observation after the interaction, Justice Kathpalia said that he found the child happy and confident girl having a strong bond with her guardian.
"She also disclosed during interaction that she has concluded her 10th standard and talked about her career ambitions. She also disclosed that the petitioner being a single mother, worked from her residence itself and was available to her 24 hours a day," the judge said.
The court did not allow "procedural deficiencies" to come in the way of the adoption, saying that the case must be viewed more as a child's right issue rather than being about laxities.
It said though the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015, does not prescribe adoption procedure where the child has already been under guardianship of the proposed adoptive parent consequent upon a judicial process, such a "procedural void", which came into existence on account of "lack of legislative perception", cannot be allowed to "abrogate" right of the child.
"Right of a child to be adopted cannot be sacrificed at the altar of procedural deficiencies since such children already orphaned or abandoned would not be abandoned by the Republic forever. In such cases, paramount consideration being welfare of the child, adoption must be viewed more of the child right instead of procedural laxities," it said.
The child, born in 2002, was relinquished by her parents to an adoption society after two years, following which the Christian woman, a journalist, had filed an application for guardianship as she could not adopt the minor on account of personal laws applicable to Christians.
She was appointed the guardian in 2005 till the child became a major.
The judge also noted there was discrepancy in the documentary record as to which of her biological parent -- unwed mother or widower father -- had surrendered her, which are required as per the adoption rules.
The court said the question is as to whether the woman's adoption plea be dismissed on account of these factors which have crept in over passage of time for no fault of the child or even the petitioner, ignoring the other vital circumstances of this case and best interest of the minor.
"The vital circumstances for deciding the present case was that till date, neither of the biological parents has come forward to claim her custody and the petitioner was desirous of adopting her but being a Christian by religion, she opted to apply for only guardianship," it said.