Mumbai: The Bombay High Court has held that Indian parents resident within the country should be preferred and given priority over NRIs, overseas Indians residents or foreigners, when a child is put up for adoption.
A bench of Justices V M Kanade and S C Gupte asked authorities like State Adoption Resource Authority (SARA) and Adoption Recommendation Committee (ARC) today, to strictly follow adoption guidelines issued in 2011, as per which children put up for adoption must be first shown to Indian parents, before they are shown to NRIs, overseas Indian parents or foreigners.
The court stated so while dismissing a petition filed by a Pune-based couple who wanted to adopt a girl child from a Pune-based adoption centre, which had already shown the same child to a USA-based Indian couple earlier.
The bench dismissed the Pune-based couple`s petition which said that the adoption agency had shown the girl to them on the State Adoption Resource Authority`s (SARA) recommendation.
SARA and ARC were also asked to follow the 80:20 proportion in favour of Indian parents, where first preference is given to Indian parents and a child put up for adoption is shown to foreign parents later, only if Indian parents decline to adopt the child.
"Though there is no specific number mentioned in the guidelines about the number of Indian parents to whom the child should be shown, we are of the view that within a period of three or four weeks, the child should be shown to as many Indian parents as possible," said the bench in a recent order.
Only if the child is not accepted by Indian parents and adoption agencies conclude that the child is unlikely to be adopted by Indian parents, should the child be shown to foreign parents, the bench further ruled.
Judges ordered the ARC to give a recommendatory letter within five days in the case of children with special needs and within 15 days for other children. This should be strictly adhered to, the bench said.
The bench asked the ARC to give away the girl child for adoption to the USA-based Indian couple but directed that the Pune-based couple be given another child.
Judges directed the Central Adoption Resource Authority to comply with adoption formalities within six weeks from today, in favour of the USA-based Indian couple.
"We are of the view, however, that (the Pune-based) petitioners should not be deprived of adopting a child and therefore, direct Respondent Number 1 (Society of Friends of Sassoon Hospitals) and Federation of Adoption Agencies to ensure that they are shown another child within six weeks," the judges ruled.
The bench expressed its displeasure over the manner in which SARA and ARC functioned in the present case.
So far, the ARC has not given a letter of recommendation which is supposed to be given within 15 days and even though more than six months have passed, it is yet to be given, the judges said.
"In the peculiar facts and circumstances of the present case, therefore, in our view, it will be deemed that such permission has been granted by ARC. In any case, we direct the ARC to issue a letter of recommendation within two weeks," the bench said.
"The purpose behind the 2011 guidelines is to ensure that the adoption process is completed expeditiously and that all these authorities ensure and keep in mind, the welfare of the child," the bench said.
"Long term traumatic effects on the child which is brought up in institutions are quite well known and therefore, it is necessary to ensure that the child is given for adoption as quickly as possible", judges said.