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    Supreme Court says prospective parents, irrespective of religious background, have the right to adopt children

    Date : 19/02/2014

    WRIT PETITION (CIVIL) NO. 470 OF 2005

    SHABNAM HASHMI vs. UNION OF INDIA & ORS.

    HRLN welcomes the Supreme Court judgement on the Right to Adopt. In a notable judgement on the petition of the clients of Human Rights Law Network, ‘Shabnam Hashmi vs the Union Of India’, the Supreme Court has decreed that prospective parents irrespective of their religious background are free to adopt children after the prescribed procedure. The court in it’s order said that ‘personal beliefs and faiths, though must be honoured, cannot dictate the operation of the provisions of an enabling statute.

    In this notable judgment, the Supreme Court of India declared that the right to adopt a child by a person as per the provisions of the Juvenile Justice Act would prevail over all personal laws and religious codes in the country. The 3 judge bench consisting of Chief Justice P. Sathasivam and Justices Ranjan Gogoi and Shiv Kirti Singh however maintained that personal laws would continue to govern any person who chooses to submit himself until such time that the vision of a uniform civil code is achieved.

    The petitioner, Ms. Shabnam Hashmi had moved this court back in 2005 after she was told that she had only guardianship rights over a young girl she had brought home from an adoption home. Being a Muslim, she was subject to the Muslim Shariat Law which did not recognise an adopted child to be on par with a biological child.

    In her plea, Ms. Hashmi wanted the right to adopt and the right to be adopted to be recognised as Fundamental Rights. The bench however rejected the plea by stating that the sphere of practices and beliefs in the country reflected a conflicting thought process amongst the people.

    The Hon ble Court also stated that adoption was a matter of personal choice and there was no compulsion on any person to adopt or adopt child.

    The Juvenile Justice Act, 2002 defines adoption in Section 2(aa). It confers upon the adoptive parents and the child all rights, privileges and responsibilities that are attached to a normal parent child relationship.

    With this declaration, prospective parents, irrespective of their religious background would be free to access the provisions of the Juvenile Justice Act  a secular act, for adoption of children after following the procedure prescribed.

    shabnam-hashmi-right-to-adopt-order.pdf
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