Public Interest Litigation Filed In Supreme Court Seeking Uniform Guidelines For Adoption And Guardianship Across India

The Supreme Court observed that a contract is void if prohibited by a statute under a penalty, even without express declaration that the contract is void

On 28th August 2020, Advocate Ashwani Kumar Upadhyay, filed a PIL urging the Supreme Court to direct the Centre to frame a uniform code for Adoption and Guardianship for all citizens of India, while seeking equal opportunities for all by transcending diversity.

The petitioner while filing this PIL supported his plea by banking on international conventions and also the Constitution of India which pledges to discrimination biases based on religion, race, cast, sex, or place of birth under Articles 14, 15, and 21.

The contention of the petitioner is that current process of adoption is based on grounds which discriminate on the basis of religion as well as gender. Throwing light on the issues associated with this the petitioner pointed out:

“Hindus Buddhists Sikhs Jains are dealt with Hindu Adoption & Maintenance Act and Hindu Minority and Guardianship Act and Muslim, Christian and Parsis have their own personal laws. Couples belonging to different religions have to seek adoption under the JJ Act 2000. NRIs, Overseas Citizens and foreign prospective adoptive parents, living in a country which is signatory to Hague Adoption Convention and wish to adopt Indian child, can approach Authorized Foreign Adoption Agency or concerned Central Authority as case may be and will be subject to be governed by Adoption Regulation 2017. So, grounds of adoption-guardianship are neither gender nor religion neutral.”

The petitioner further seeks alternate directions to the Law Commission to prepare report on ‘Uniform Grounds of Adoption & Guardianship’ within 3 months, while considering the best practices of laws of adoption and guardianship along with international conventions. While considering these, he also states that custody, guardianship, adoption, maintenance, minimum marriage age, grounds of divorce, succession and inheritance are secular activities and therefore, it is duty of the State to ensure that every citizen, including the third gender, has uniform right with regard to these activities.

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