[Juvenile Justice Act] Supreme Court seeks Central government’s response on PIL for better adoption, foster care norms

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The Supreme Court on Monday sought the response of the Central government on a public interest litigation (PIL) petition seeking removal of administrative delays in providing vulnerable juveniles access to adoption, foster/kinship care and sponsorship facilities as per the Juvenile Justice Act of 2015 (JJ Act) [Srisabarirajan vs Union of India and ors].

A Bench of Justices DY Chandrachud and Hima Kohli issued the notice on the PIL filed by Mumbai-based advocate Srisabarirajan K and tagged it with a similar plea already pending before the top court.

The petitioner flagged the declining adoption rates in the country, specially those for specially-abled kids, as well as the virtual non-existence of foster care and sponsorship despite being provided for in the JJ Act.

Sponsorship under the Act entails financial assistance to families, children’s homes, and special homes to meet medical, nutritional, educational and other needs.

The plea highlighted the declining budgetary assistance to ‘Child Protection Services and Child Welfare Services’ and stressed on the need to build awareness towards adoption of kids older than six years of age.

Further, the plea contended that the Hindu Adoption and Maintenance Act is unregulated as it requires no registration, verification of source of child, ascertainment of suitability of prospective adoptive parents, or post adoption follow-ups.

The petitioner, therefore, sought a dedicated census and Union Ministry for children, and improved adoption norms by means of a Specialised Adoption Agency in every district.

Separate Central and State agencies to facilitate foster care, kinship care and sponsorship as well as expediting adoption of prospective kids was also prayed for.

Further, the plea also sought increased budgetary outlay, training and awareness in this regard, formation of a high-level committee to provide findings and recommendations of associated schemes, as well as allowing corporate social responsibility (CSR) funds to be utilised for such purposes.

The petition was filed filed through advocate Vishnu Kant. Advocates Rohan Shah and Alok Yadav appeared for the petitioner.

The Supreme Court Bench led by Justice Chandrachud had last month stated that it is high time that the process for adoption of children in India is simplified.

The Bench had noted that lakhs of children were waiting to be adopted even as couples are in queue for the same for many years.

Justice Chandrachud went on to suggest that the Central government to have someone in the Ministry meet the petitioner, since he had some valid points on the issue.

In a bid to simplify the adoption process, the Delhi High Court had also last year asked the Union Ministry of Women & Child Development to lay down a permanent mechanism for inter-country adoption under the Hindu Adoptions & Maintenance Act.

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