The Supreme Court on Friday emphasised that the child adoption process in India needs to be streamlined as there are three-to-four years waiting period under the Central Adoption Resource Authority (CARA) to adopt a single child while there are “lakhs and lakhs of orphan children waiting to be adopted”.
The top court had earlier also termed the process as “very tedious” and said that there is an urgent need for the procedures to be “streamlined”.
A bench of Justices DY Chandrachud, AS Bopanna, and JB Pardiwala told Additional Solicitor General KM Nataraj, appearing for the Centre, “There are a lot of young couples waiting to adopt the child but the process is so tedious that it takes three to four years to get a single child to be adopted through the CARA.
Can you imagine a three to four years period to adopt a child in India? It should be made simpler.
There are lakhs and lakhs of orphan children waiting to be adopted”.
Nataraj said that the government is seized of the issue and sought six weeks to come up with a reply to a plea filed by an NGO seeking to simplify the process of child adoption in the country.
The bench asked Nataraj to ask someone responsible from the Ministry of Child Development to hold a meeting and look into the suggestions of the NGO ‘The Temple of Healing’ and prepare a report to be filed in the top court.
It asked Piyush Saxena, secretary of the NGO, who appeared in person to share his petition to the ASG and give his suggestions to the officials in the ministry on how to make the adoption process simpler.
The bench posted the matter for further hearing in October.
On August 5, the top court said the child adoption process in India is “very tedious” and that there is an urgent need for the procedures to be “streamlined”.
It had asked Nataraj, appearing for the Centre, to file its response to a PIL detailing steps to streamline the process of adoption of children in the country.
“The reason we have issued notice on the PIL is that the process of child adoption is very tedious in India. The Central Adoption Resource Authority (CARA) has an annual capacity of 2,000 adoptions which has now increased to 4,000. There are three crore children who are orphans in this country. There is an urgent need for the process to be streamlined,” the top court had observed.
The court has asked the Centre to consider the suggestions of the PIL petitioner and file a response about the steps taken to streamline the process.
The apex court had said it was earlier apprehensive about the intention of the NGO but when it came to know about Piyush Saxena, appearing for the NGO and who has left his job in a big corporate firm to pursue the cause, it had issued notice.
On April 11, the top court agreed to hear the plea seeking to simplify the legal process for child adoption in India, saying only 4,000 adoptions take place annually in the country.
It had issued notice to the Centre after Saxena, appearing for the NGO, said he had made several representations to the Union Ministry of Women and Child Development for simplifying the process of child adoption but nothing has happened till now.
Saxena had submitted that as per the data available in the public domain there are only 4,000 child adoptions annually but till last year there were three crore orphaned children in the country.
Several infertile couples are willing to have a child, he added.
“Last year, during the pandemic the ministry issued a notification that it has relaxed the norms but this could be done on a regular basis,” he had said.
The top court had questioned Saxena to say he represents an organisation and what it has to do with the adoption process.
“I am the secretary in the ‘The Temple of Healing’ and we don’t accept a donation or charge any money and provide treatment of various ailments through naturopathy”, Saxena had said.
He had added that the Child Adoption Resource Information and Guidance System may appoint a few trained “adoption preparers” on the lines of the Income Tax preparer scheme of 2006.
He said they can help prospective parents to complete the cumbersome paperwork required for adoption.
Saxena further submitted that there is also an anomaly on the legislature front as adoption is being governed by the Hindu Adoption and Maintenance Act of 1956, whose nodal ministry is the Ministry of Law and Justice, while the aspects of orphans are dealt with by the Ministry of Women and Child Development.
“The Ministry of Women and Child Development asked me for a detailed written submission which I gave them last March but till now no action has been taken. They don’t want any action to be taken as they worry that children may go into the wrong hands”, he had said.