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KEY TAKEAWAYS

  • Prior judgment by High Court on 9th April: Adoption was declared illegal and no rights were given to the adoptive parents, in addition to this, restoration of the child was given to her birthparents.
  • 2015 (JJ Act): Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2000, allows for juveniles in conflict with Law in the age group of 16–18, involved in Heinous Offences, to be tried as adults.


INTRODUCTION

In this particular case, renowned Justices Vineet Saran and Dinesh Maheswhari stayed the judgment of the Kerala High Court after the petitioners pointed out that the High Court had passed its verdict without hearing them on the case of the adoptive parents of a girl child who has moved the Supreme Court challenging a Kerala High Court judgment of April 9, which had set aside the adoption of the child on the ground that a deed of surrender had not been executed by both the biological parents. The Supreme Court ordered that, “Considering the facts and circumstances of this case, in the meanwhile, the operation of the impugned order shall remain stayed.”

BACKGROUND OF THE CASE

Advocates Liz Mathew, Manisha Singh and Sonali Jain appeared on behalf of the petitioners (i.e the adoptive parents). In this case, in a prior judgment on 9th April, 21, the Kerala High Court had allowed a petition filed by a couple who were in a live-in relationship, seeking to reclaim their child who had been surrendered for adoption by the mother alone at a time when the couple had drifted apart. Expanding on that information the birthmother gave up her child to the Child Welfare Committee when her live-in partner moved to another state and called off the relationship for a while. The birthmother even executed a Deed of Surrender in June to give up her child in for adoption.

The case first went to the Committee where keeing the woman as an unwed mother, the Committee proceeded to give the child in adoption to a couple under the provisions of the Adoption Regulations, 2017 and Section 38 of the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015 (JJ Act). But afterwards the couple got back together so the couple later approached the High Court by way of a Habeas Corpus plea, seeking the return of the child after they were denied the same by the Committee as well. The problem placed before the High Court was whether a child born out a live-in relationship and acknowledged so by the mother of the child, would have to be treated as a child born to a married couple for the purposes of surrendering a child for adoption under the JJ Act 2015.

HIGH COURTS DECISION

The entire process followed in giving the child up for adoption was vitiated by the High Court, since only the mother had signed the surrender deed. Consequently, the High Court held that newly adoptive parents accrued no right since the entire process itself was illegal. Based off this, the High Court set aside the adoption and ordered that the child be restored back to the couple.

APPEAL TO THE SC BY THE ADOPTIVE PARENTS

The adoptive parents now challenged this judgment by the High Court before the Supreme Court. The appellants placed reliance on a prior judgment that is the Supreme Court judgment in Lakshmi Kant Pandey v. Union of India which had ordered for a three-month period to allow biological parents to reconsider their decision about relinquishment of the child. The Court contended that adoption creates a permanent relationship between the child and the adoptive parents, and the biological parents cannot reclaim the child.

The petitioners contended that they ought to have been heard by the High Court before passing the impugned judgment.

CONCLUSION

This following matter was heard on Monday, the Supreme Court noted that the Kerala High Court delivered its verdict without hearing the adoptive parents. "Counsel for the petitioners submitted that the impugned order has been passed by the High Court without the petitioners being party to the proceedings before the High Court and no opportunity was thus afforded to the petitioners, even though the petitioners are directly affected as the adopted child has been with them since 19th October, 2020," the Supreme Court noted. Looking into all the facts of the case the Supreme Court issued notice in the matter and stayed the High Court order.

What do you think about the Supreme Court’s order in this case? Let me know in the comments below!


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