Anxious parents seek clarity over status of adoption cases, govt says DM’s will prioritise pending court cases on transfer

NEW DELH: Nandini (name changed) and her husband had registered with the Central

Adoption

Resource Authority in 2018. After a long wait to be matched with a child, the Pune based couple was finally able to bring their 6 – month old daughter home as foster

parents

in April 2021. The child turns 2 later this week but the parents are yet to get the adoption order with the

court

where her matter was listed on the 12th of this month for a hearing getting deferred to September 30 and parents concerned over what lies ahead as new rules notified by the central government on September 1 sought immediate

transfer

of all pending cases in courts to the district magistrate.

Incidentally, amid rising worries of parents, on September 12 the ministry of women and child development wrote to all states to direct the concerned authorities to transfer all cases from the courts to the

DM

to prevent any further delay in passing of adoption orders. This was in keeping with the notification of the Juvenile Justice Model (Amendment) Rules 2022 that came into effect on September 1. There are over 900 cases estimated to be pending in Courts at different stages of hearing across the country.

Going by the rules the DM will have to dispose of an application for making an adoption order within a period of two months. However, the adoption regulations that will lay out the process are yet to be notified. According to the ministry of women and child development the notification will happen this week.

With September 30 as the next date of hearing listed in the court, an anxious Nandini for now is clueless about the fate of her case. She wrote to the concerned authorities dealing with adoptions on September 13. She is still awaiting a response to her mails. “I am emotionally drained.. I will be celebrating my daughter’s second birthday this week but her grandmother who lives in another city has yet to see her as rules do not allow me to take her out of the city I live in till the adoption is complete,” Nandini said.

Nandini’s case reflects the dilemma of parents whose cases are at an advanced stage in court and who are seeking clarity on if and when the court will transfer their case to the district magistrate and how quickly will the latter take it up. The fear of further delay due to the administrative process of transfer of cases and then in passage of adoption orders is worrying parents like Nandini.

Dr Manisha Bhandarkar, managing trustee of Swami Vivekanand Seva Pratishthan in Belagavi in Karnataka shared that they have three cases – two inter-country and one domestic adoption matters listed for hearing in the court later this month. All three cases are listed for final hearing. “We all knew that the district magistrate will be hearing all adoption cases instead of the courts after the amendments to the Juvenile Justice Act will be implemented. However, the cause of concern emerges from the rules that talk of transferring all cases pending in courts to district magistrates. This has put families awaiting adoption orders in a state of confusion over how and when these cases will be transferred and the timeframe for the same,” she said.

Avinash Kumar, founder of voluntary organisation Families of Joy that works on adoption issues and with adoptive parents, strongly asserts, “ideally this amended law should not have been applied to pending petitions in the courts. The law should have applied to fresh cases from September 1. However, the government should now take measures for those awaiting final orders and with cases at advanced stages of order and allow the courts to pass the orders in these cases to prevent delay instead of transferring them to the DM. We too are exploring legal options available to seek relief for these cases.”

Meanwhile, it is learnt that to establish the pendency status of cases CARA has started collating all figures on pendency of adoption cases from the date that they were filed. This compilation of pendency data is expected to be complete by mid week, sources said. All cases beyond two months from the date of filing are called delayed cases. It is learnt that once the adoption regulations are notified, CARA will be connecting directly to the DMs in the states to dispose of the pending cases on priority in a time bound manner.

According to officials, although two months is the maximum time allowed for the DM to issue an adoption order, the DMs will have the authority to end the case during the first hearing itself. It is learnt that the WCD ministry and CARA would be conveying the message to all DMs and ADMs during the training sessions being held with them during this week.

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