New Delhi: Expressing apprehension that Indian children adopted by foreign nationals could be exploited, the Supreme Court has asked the Government to consider formulation of a suitable law to regulate inter-country adoptions.
A bench of Justices Markandeya Katju and TS Thakur observed that presently there is no legislation in the country on such adoptions as a result of which Indian children adopted
by foreign parents are vulnerable to exploitation.
The bench passed the direction while appointing Solicitor General Gopal Subramanium as amicus curiae (special counsel) to assist the court on the tricky issue while dealing with the special leave petition filed by a cerebral palsy-afflicted American and his wife who wanted to adopt a mentally challenged 11-year old boy.
"Why should we interfere with the concurrent findings of the District Judge and the Delhi High Court that the child could be exploited. The question is once the child is taken
out of the country, the jurisdiction of Indian courts ends. (Then) What will be the fate of the child," the bench asked a senior counsel appearing for the couple.
The Delhi High Court had on August 31 last year rejected the plea of Craig Allen Coates and his wife Cynthia Ann Coates, residents of Winnebago, USA, to adopt a minor Indian
after holding that the couple, already having two sons and a daughters, intended to exploit him as a domestic help.
It had concurred with the findings of a District Judge that the intention of the couple did not appear to be bonafide.
"The real intention of the appellants (Coates) in adopting the child who is suffering from mental delays (mental growth has not kept pace with age) appears to exploit him as
domestic help for the husband who has been suffering from cerebral palsy since birth," Justice VB Gupta of the High Court had observed.
The boy is presently lodged at a child welfare centre in Saritha Vihar.
The High Court had said the wife was working as a supervisor nurse and getting a huge salary in the US and the couple wanted to adopt the boy so as to employ him to look
after her husband.
It also imposed a cost of Rs 20,000 on the couple for abusing the process of law. Aggrieved by the High Court`s ruling, the couple filed the SLP in the Supreme Court.
The apex court, while refusing to grant any immediate relief to the couple, said in an order, "We also request the Law Commission to consider recommending legislation on the matter of inter-country adoptions as at present there is no legislation on the subject and there is a pressing need for the same.
"The Law Ministry, Government of India, may also look into the matter," the bench said, while adjourning the matter by four weeks.