Hindustan Times ST (Jaipur)

Govt must stop illegal adoption of kids orphaned by Covid: SC

- Abraham Thomas :

The Supreme Court has directed states and Union Territorie­s to stop illegal adoption of children who were orphaned or abandoned during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Passing a slew of directions on a suo motu petition with regard to protection of rights of children affected by the pandemic, a bench of justices L Nageswara Rao and Aniruddha Bose said, “The state government­s/union Territorie­s are directed to take action against those Ngos/individual­s who are indulging in illegal adoptions.”

The court was informed about adoption posts circulatin­g on various social media platforms amid the pandemic that saw several children lose either one or both their parents.

The problem of illegal adoption was brought to the attention of the court by the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR). The commission received complaints where the identity of the affected children was disclosed in public announceme­nts by agencies and individual­s inviting interested persons to adopt them. Such adoption routes were in violation of the Juvenile Justice Act which prescribes adoption through Central Adoption Resource Authority (CARA).

An applicatio­n filed by NGO ‘We the Women of India’ informed the court about adoption requests on social media, which, upon enquiry by the NGO, were found to be fake. The NGO through advocate Shobha Gupta stressed the need for immediate action to be taken by states and UTS to stop the circulatio­n of such posts on social media and take stringent action against persons responsibl­e for making such posts.

The bench directed all states/ UTS to prevent any NGO from collecting funds in the names of affected children by disclosing their identity and inviting interested persons to adopt them.

“Stringent action shall be taken by the state government­s/union Territorie­s against agencies/individual­s who are responsibl­e for indulging in this illegal activity. Invitation to persons for adoption of orphans is contrary to law as no adoption of a child can be permitted without the involvemen­t of CARA.

Among other orders given by the court, the states and UTS were directed to ensure continuati­on of education of children affected by Covid-19 in both government and private schools. The directions came on a similar suggestion by amicus curiae advocate Gaurav Agrawal.

The bench said, “The state government­s/union Territorie­s are directed to make provisions for continuanc­e of education of the children both in Government as well as in private schools.”

On June 1, the SC directed states to identify children who were abandoned, orphaned or lost one of their parents during Covid by uploading the informatio­n on “Bal Swaraj” portal.

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