Indian actress sunny leone with her adopted daughter

India made efforts to make a secular adoption bill applicable to all communities including Christian, muslims, Parsis and hindu religions also, but every time these efforts defeated due to contemporary reasons. At present, we have juvenile justice act and hindu adoption and maintenance act for the purpose of adoption, the former act applicable to all communities and later one applicable only for Hindus, Buddhists, Sikhs, Jains and other path of hindu religion.

The quest for a secular adoption bill

The adoption of Children Bill, 1972 was introduced in the Rajya Sabha sometime in 1972 but it was subsequently dropped, presumably because of the opposition of the Muslims stemming from the fact that it was intended to provide for a uniform law of adoption applicable to all communities including the Muslims.

And, in view of the rather strong sentiments expressed by the members of the Muslim Community and with a view not to offend their religious susceptibilities, the Adoption of Children Bill, 1980 which was introduced in the Lok Sabha eight years later on 16th December, 1980, contained an express provision that it shall not be applicable to Muslims.

Apart from this change in its coverage the Adoption of Children Bill, 1980 was substantially in the same terms as the Adoption of Children Bill, 1972.

The Adoption of Children Bill 1980 has unfortunately not yet been enacted into law but it would be useful to notice some of the relevant provisions of this Bill in so far as they indicate what principles and norms the Central Government regarded as necessary to be observed for securing the welfare of children sought to be given in adoption to foreign parents and what procedural safeguards the Central Government thought, were essential for securing this end. Clauses 23 and 24 of the Adoption of Children Bill, 1980 dealt with the problem of adoption of Indian children by parents domiciled abroad and, in so far as material, they provided as follows:

” (23) (1) Except under the authority of an order under section 24, it shall not be lawful for any person to take or send out of India a child who is a citizen of India to any place outside India with a view to the adoption of the child by any person.

(2) Any person who takes or sends a child out of India to any place outside India in contravention of sub-section (1) or makes or takes part in any arrangements for transferring the care and custody of a child to any person for that purpose shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term which may extend to six months or with fine, or with both.

 (24) (1) If upon an application made by a person who is not domiciled in India, the district court is satisfied that the applicant intends to adopt a child under the law of or within the country in which he is domiciled, and for that purpose desires to remove the child from India either immediately or after an interval, the court may make an order (in this section referred to as a provisional adoption order) authorising the applicant to remove the child for the purpose aforesaid and giving to the applicant the care and custody of the child pending his adoption as aforesaid:

Provided that no application shall be entertained unless it is accompanied by a certificate by the Central Government to the effect that-

(i) the applicant is in its opinion a fit person to adopt the child;

(ii) the welfare and interests of the child shall be safeguarded under the law of the country of domicile of the applicant;

(iii) the applicant has made proper provision by way of deposit or bond or otherwise in accordance with the rules made under this Act to enable the child to be repatriated to India, should it become necessary for any reason.

(2) The provisions of this Act relating to an adoption order shall, as far as may be apply in relation to a provisional adoption order made under this section.

The other clauses of the Adoption of Children Bill, 1980 were sought to be made applicable in relation to a provisional adoption order by reason of sub-clause (3) of clause 24. The net effect of this provision, if the Bill were enacted into law, would be that in view of clause 17 no institution or organisation can make any arrangement for the adoption of an Indian child by foreign parents unless such institution or organisation is licensed as a social welfare institution and under Clause 21, it would be unlawful to make or to give to any person any payment or reward for or in consideration of the grant by that person of any consent required in connection with the adoption of a child or the transfer by that person of the care and custody of such child with a view to its adoption or the making by that person of any arrangements for such adoption.

Moreover, in view of Clause 8, no provisional adoption order can be made in respect of an Indian child except with the consent of the parent or guardian of such child and if such child is in the care of an institution, except with the consent of the institution given on its behalf by all the persons entrusted with or in charge of its management, but the District Court can dispense with such consent if it is satisfied that the person whose consent is to be dispensed with has abandoned, neglected or persistently ill-treated the child or has persistently failed without reasonable cause to discharge his obligation as parent or guardian or can not be found or is incapable of giving consent or is withholding consent unreasonably.

When a provisional adoption order is made by the District Court on the application of a person domiciled abroad, such person would be entitled to obtain the care and custody of the child in respect of which the order is made and to remove such child for the purpose of adopting it under the law or within the country in which he is domiciled.

The provisions of the bill could not see the light of the day but the supreme court in Lakshmi Kant Pandey vs Union Of India[1], while formulating the norms and principles for inter-country adoption, borne in mind the provision of the act and eventually they came in the guise of Supreme court guidelines on inter-country adoption.


Lakshmi Kant Pandey vs Union Of India; 1984 AIR 469, 1984 SCR (2) 795

[1] 1984 AIR 469, 1984 SCR (2) 795