There is a need to bring in a new and comprehensive law to deal with child adoption that makes the process smoother as well as more accountable, a parliamentary panel that examined the sensitive subject has felt.
The panel, headed by BJP MP Sushil Kumar Modi, observed that a unique situation prevailed in India, where on one hand a large number of families were finding it difficult to adopt children while on the other hand, a huge number of children were living as orphans or beggars on the streets.
The committee also noted with alarm that 762 children had died in Specialized Adoption Agencies between 2018-19 and 2021-22 and called for a third party study of all Child Care institutions.
In another pertinent observation, the panel also took note of the word ‘illegitimate’ used in some legislations to describe children and asserted that no child should be described in this manner.
The 118th report of the standing committee on personnel, public grievances, law and justice was put before both Houses of the Parliament on Monday.
The committee looked at the Hindu Adoptions and Maintenance Act and Juvenile Justice Act and said both have their own virtues and shortcomings.
“While the adoption procedure laid down under HAMA is simple and takes less time as compared to that stipulated in JJ Act, adoptions made under JJ Act are transparent, accountable and verifiable,” the panel said in its 43-page report.
It, however, pointed out that the adoption regulations framed under Juvenile Justice Act provide for an elaborate and time-consuming and were beset with inordinate delays.
It is also observed that Specialized Adoption Agencies are also overburdened with procedural requirements and massive paperwork. “The Committee feels that there is a need to harmonise both the laws and bring out a Uniform and comprehensive legislation on adoption which is more transparent, accountable, verifiable, less bureaucratic and applicable to all irrespective of religion in order to make adoptions more easy and less cumbersome,” the panel said.
The panel also said that section 3(1) of the Hindu Minority and Guardianship Act makes use of the term ‘illegitimate’ in reference to a child born out of wedlock.
The Committee strongly feels that the word ‘Illegitimate’ should be omitted as no child is illegitimate and the law should be the same for all children whether born within or out of wedlock, the panel said.
The committee also felt that the new law it has suggested should also cover the LGBTQ community “The Committee is of the view that the new law on adoption should provide for early de-institutionalization of the newborn as it is in the best interest of children. The Committee also opines that the adopted child should be entitled to a share in the property of his adoptive parents and not of his biological parents since adoption replaces biological parents with adoptive parents permanently,” said the panel.
In its report, the panel also called for creating an adoption register to keep record of authentic data. “The Committee takes note of the paradoxical situation where on one hand there are a large number of Parents willing to adopt a child, on the other, there are not many children available for adoption, all this while the 2020 World Orphan Report estimates number of orphans in India at 31 million.
Also, as per the information furnished by the Ministry of Women and Child Development, as per Census 2011 there are 55,258 child beggars in the age group of 0 to 19 years in the Country,” said the panel report.
The Committee also noted with concern that 762 children had died in Specialized Adoption Agencies between 2018-19 and 2021-22 which it called “alarming”.
The Committee recommends the Ministry to commission a third party study of all Child Care institutions.
The Committee also recommends the Ministry to investigate into the causes of child deaths in Specialized adoption agencies and furnish a brief note to the Committee within three months time, the panel said.