Adoption of child by single parents: “If a woman feels she is nothing without the support of a man that is the failure of the system” The Kerala High Court quoted during the hearing of a case in regard to surrendering a child for adoption.
Justices A Muhamed Mustaque and Dr Kauser Edappagath of the bench were faced with a petition by an unmarried couple who lived together, reclaiming their child who was surrendered for adoption previously. The court granted its’s decision in favour of the couple and handed them their child back. The decision was ruled against the Child Welfare Committee that inquired into their marriage status.
“Once it is found that the child is born to a couple, for all practical purposes of JJ Act, inquiry must be initiated as though the child belonged to a married couple” The Kerala HC said.
What was the case?
Anitha and John (names changed to preserve privacy) were in a live-in relationship when she got pregnant. Anitha claimed John to be the biological father. Their relationship was not accepted by their parents as they belonged to separate religions.
Anitha gave up her child when John decided to take a break from the relationship. The sole reason for giving up her child was the anxiety of single being a single mother. She handed over her child to the Committee in May last year, executing a Deed of Surrender in June.
The Child Welfare Committee treated Anitha as a single mother and proceeded to give the child in adoption to a couple under provisions of the Adoption Regulations, 2017 and section 38 of 2015’s Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection) Act.
However, later the couple claimed their child back and approached the Kerala High Court for the same under a Habeas Corpus petition.
Hence, the court was in a state of dilemma whether a couple in a live-in relationship could be equated to a married couple for the purpose of surrender.
The court, therefore, announced that the couples in a live-in relationship also have a right to restoration. The body stated that the parental right of biological parents is a natural right and can’t be preconditioned by the institutionalisation of legal marriage.
“Marriage as a social institution depends upon personal law or secular law like Special Marriage Act. It has no bearing on the concept of Juvenile Justice… In a live-in relationship, a couple acknowledges the mutual rights and obligations. Offspring in such a relationship is acknowledging biological parental rights of both.”