New Delhi : The Supreme Court Friday issued notices to the central government and social activist Shabnam Hashmi on a plea by a Christian organisation seeking to be made a party in the hearing of Hashmi’s petition seeking relaxation of norms for adopting children.
A bench comprising Chief Justice K.G. Balakrishnan and Justice R.V. Raveendran issued notices after the Evangelical Fellowship of India, with over 30,000 Indian churches and representing a majority of four million Christians in the country, said the community in India is aggrieved at the denial of their right to adopt children.
Hashmi, through her petition to the apex court, had sought that the right to adopt a child, currently restricted to Hindus, Buddhists, Jains and Sikhs, be extended to Muslims, Christians, Jews and Parsis as well.
Hashmi’s counsel, Collin Gonsalves, sought relaxation of adoption norms, saying there are over 12.5 million orphans in the country, while less than four thousand were currently being adopted annually owing to strict adoption norms.
Additional Solicitor General Gopal Subramanyam, however, denying Gonsalves’ figures of orphans in the country, said these are not based on any scientific survey or census data.
He, however, said the government is working on comprehensive guidelines for adoption of children and is also contemplating to provide statutory backing to it.
The law officer said the government needed to ensure the safety of the adopted children as well as the religious sensitivities involved in the issue.
He said that while laying down the guidelines on adoption of children, the government is also trying to incorporate relevant provisions of the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2000.
Subramanyam sought eight months’ time to finalise the guidelines. The court then adjourned the matter, asking the government to file its reply within four weeks.