INDIAN HIGH COURT VERDICT PAVES WAY FOR SIKHs, HINDUs, BUDHISTs AND JAINs LIVING IN THE UK and OTHER COUNTRIES TO ADOPT RELATIVE CHILDREN FROM INDIA WITHOUT GOING THROUGH THE TEDIOUS PROCESS OF INTER-COUNTRY ADOPTION UNDER THE HAGUE ADOPTION CONVENTION AND INDIAN JUVENILE JUSTICE ACT, 2015
In a petition filed by a mother who is a British Citizen and Overseas Citizen of India, through her lawyer Sukhvinder Singh Nara, the Punjab and Haryana High Court, India, held that in cases of inter-country adoption of children being given directly by parents to relatives as per Sikh rites and ceremonies and under the Hindu Adoption and Maintenance Act, 1956 the adoptive parents are not required to follow the tedious process of inter-country adoption under the Hague International Adoption Convention the provisions of which have been incorporated by the Indian parliament under the Juvenile Justice Act, 2015 being signatory to the Hague Adoption Convention.
The Hindu Adoptions and Maintenance Act, 1956 which is a personal law is applicable to Sikhs, Hindus, Jains and Budhs would govern the adoption of children amongst the persons belonging to these religions and not the THE HAGUE ADOPTION CONVENTION AND INDIAN JUVENILE JUSTICE ACT, 2015.
The Court also ruled out the requirement of procuring NOC from the Central Adoption Resource Authority, New Delhi for issuance of passport to the child so adopted where the adoptive parents are Indians being Overseas Citizens of India.
In this case, the passport authority in India refused to issue a passport to the adopted child, a toddler girl, given in adoption by her natural parents to her mother biological mother’s real sister and her husband, NRIs, OCI card holders and citizens of United Kingdom for want of NOC from CARA.
Mr. Sukhvinder SIngh Nara, lawyer for the family told that the baby girl was given in adoption as per SIkh rites and ceremonies performed at a Gurudwara and a certificate to this effect was also issued. Pursuant to the adoption ceremony, a registered adoption deed was also executed between the natural and adoptive parents of the child. So the child was duly adopted as per the personal law i.e HAMA, 1956. He further told that the high court has held that even though the adoptive parents are British Citizens, their religion remains the same and therefore, their right to adopt under the HAMA, 1956 cannot be taken away. The Court concluded that it was neither mandatory nor necessary to apply for adoption of the Child under the J.J. Act, 2015, the Union of India and CARA cannot question the validity of the registered adoption deed in the application for issuance of a passport by a minor adopted child. The High Court directed CARA to issue simple NOC (under HAMA not under JJ Act) to the adoptive parents within two weeks for taking the child to UK and the Ministry of External Affairs/Regional Passport Office, Jalandhar to immediately thereafter issue the passport to the petitioner within two weeks of the receipt of NOC from CARA.
Gurpal Oppal, a prominent lawyer based in the UK who was providing consultation to the adoptive parents in the UK said that the verdict by Punjab and Haryana High Court is of significant importance for the Indian diaspora. The adoption process was lengthy and very costly under the Hague Adoption Convention and Indian JJ Act due to which many NRIs were not able to adopt children from India, now this ruling eases and simplifies the process of inter-country adoption, said Oppal. He further said that even under the English Adoption Order of 2013 the overseas adoptions other than the convention adoptions are also recognised and India is a listed Country in the said order, hence, he sees no difficulty either to apply for British Nationality or dependant/settlement visa for the adopted children from India.