States Are In Prima Facie Violation Of Directions Issued For Exepditing Adoption Process : Supreme Court Gives Last Chance To Comply

States Are In Prima Facie Violation Of Directions Issued For Exepditing Adoption Process : Supreme Court Gives Last Chance To Comply

The Supreme Court (on March 15), while hearing a PIL to simplify adoption procedures, observed that the States are prima facie in breach of the previous directions to expedite the adoption process. In view of this, the Court gave the States one last opportunity to comply with the directions, failing which the Court may resort to coercive proceedings.

The bench, led by Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud, was hearing a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) filed by “The Temple of Healing,” a charitable trust.

In the previous order, the Court had issued certain directions to make adoption process in India easier. These included filling of vacancies in the Specialised Adoption Agencies (SAA).

During today’s hearing, right at the commencement, the CJI asked the Additional Solicitor General of India, Aishwarya Bhati, about the status report.

ASG apprised the bench, which also included Justices JB Pardiwala and Manoj Misra, that the status report has been filed, indicating that more steps are required from the State’s end. Underscoring this situation, she highlighted that even today, out of 760 districts in 370 districts, there was no SAA functioning.

“That is very critical because the child will not be brought to the centre of the State. The District bodies have to be functional and operational.,” she added.

In view of this, she requested that the States be given the last opportunity to comply with the directions, and then an updated status report will be filed before the Court.

Following this, Dr. Piyush Saxena (petitioner-in-person), office-bearer of the “Temple of Healing”, referred to the detailed framework he had submitted. He insisted that the solutions he had cited were practical and simple.

However, referring to the previous order passed last November, the CJI stated that the comprehensive directions have already been issued, and the Court wants to make them implementable. He also reiterated that 370 districts do not have SAAs.

Ultimately, the Court told the petitioner that it would look at those suggestions and further deliberate on how the directions already passed could be strengthened.

In view of this, the Court ordered:

“…we find that is prima facie a breach on the part of the states in complying with the directions of this Court. We furnish one further opportunity to the states to comply with the directions which were issued on November 20, 2023. Failing which, the Court may be constrained to take the recourse to coercive proceedings.”

The Court also asked the Union to communicate about the instant order to all States and Union Territories and accordingly, place an updated status report.

Following this, the Court asked if the adoption rate had increased. ASG replied in the affirmative but also apprised the Bench that more registrations are needed in the Child Adoption Resource Information & Guidance System (CARINGS). She also submitted that more children have been identified. Regarding this, the CJI also sought information to see if the Court’s order has made any actual difference on the ground.

In this context, it may be noted that the directions passed also included identifying children as orphaned, abandoned, or surrendered. Further, compiling adequate data so as to channel children in foster care for adoption.

On the earlier occasion, the ASG had also highlighted that the Child Adoption Resource Information & Guidance System (CARINGS) portal had registered 33967 Prospective Adoptive Parents (PaPs). However, in stark contrast, the number of children available for adoption was just 7107, comprising 5656 children without any special needs and 1451 children with special needs. She added that PaPs had to wait for 3 to 4 years to adopt a “healthy young child” from the system.

As the hearing continued, Advocate Rohan Pardeep Shah, in his turn, drew the Court’s attention to the statistics filed by the States and termed them as ‘shocking.’ He stated that several adoption applications are pending even though the statutory period (for processing these applications) is two months.

“All of the statistics how that at the highest the adoption are at the average of 3,800, over the last ten years….If we see the statistics filed, my lords, forget the states who have not filed but the states who have filed, the statistics are shocking in as much as the sort of process and the sort of pendency. The statutory period, where there is two months, they accept that over 75 percent of the applications are now not only over two months but 45 percent are over a year in pendency.”

At this CJI, while asking the ASG for an updated position, remarked “So many parents are willing to adopt, so many children are available for adoption in the country….This is a very serious problem. There are parents waiting to adopt a child. They do not get a child for three years, four years, five years…”

Thereafter, the ASG apprised the Court about the two data points discernible from the Status report: Over 9000 children were identified who did not have any visits and were in child care institutes. So, they were immediately put in foster care. Further, 11,000 have been identified (for adoption). She also stressed that the biggest problem is that the district-level machinery is not effective.

This prompted the Court to add in its order that the registrar (Judicial) shall circulate a copy of this order to all the chief secretaries of the States.

All states are required to submit the data to the Ministry of Child Development on or before April 07. The Union of India shall collate the data and present it to the Court by April 14.

Case Title: The Temple of Healing v. Union of India| WP(C) 1003/2021 (Live Law)

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