Showing posts with label Hindu Adoption and Maintenance Act. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Hindu Adoption and Maintenance Act. Show all posts

Monday, June 18, 2018

Jeeja's Child adoption story raises hopes for many others

Jeeja Ghosh - is another name for perseverance and doggedness when it comes to fighting out for rights.  And she has shown it once again that if you stand for what is right, perseverance pays.

Jeeja, a fellow disability rights activist has been married for around five years now. Resident of Ballygunge she has broken many ceilings and has had many firsts. The 48-year-old added one more to the list last week, becoming the first person born with cerebral palsy in Kolkata — and possibly India — to become an adoptive mom.
Jeeja Ghosh with Hiya (adopted daughter)
(Source- Facebook)

Motherhood was a dream that Jeeja, born with the disabling condition, nursed since she tied the knot in 2013. But little did she know about the hurdles she would have to face before being considered fit for adopting a five-month-old girl. On 7th June 2018, after an epic struggle, Jeeja welcomed home a girl child — lovingly called Bhujungu and Sonai at home — to her ninth-floor flat at the Saptaparni complex on Ballygunge Circular Road.

Jeeja, a Presidency College graduate and Delhi University postgraduate, and her husband, Bappaditya Nag, a law officer at Syndicate Bank, applied for adoption in 2016. Madhusmita Nayak, programme manager for the specialized adoption agency project at Keonjhar’s Self-Realisation Mission (SRM), from where the child was adopted, said the baby was born in January 2018 and was abandoned at a Keonjhar hospital. “We don’t know about her biological parents,” Nayak said.

It was love at first sight for the couple when they saw the yet-unnamed child at SRM. But it needed multiple trips to Keonjhar to convince the adoption committee that Jeeja could be a responsible care-giver. “We submitted a fit certificate from a gynecologist but even after that the committee told us this certificate was not acceptable because it had to be issued by a ‘medical practitioner’,” Nag said.

It was an uphill struggle since then and, after numerous mails and reminders, the couple finally escalated the matter to Dr Sadaf Nazneen, consultant (eastern region), Central Adoption Resource Authority (CARA).

On Tuesday, Dr Sadaf Nazneen, of CARA told TOI, “It needs to be checked whether the couple is emotionally, physically and financially suitable to adopt a child. This was the first case where a parent with cerebral palsy was keen on adoption. It will remain as a reference point for other such applications in future. Some questions might have seemed uncomfortable but they were perhaps asked to judge the suitability of the family adopting the baby.”

Jeeja Ghosh and her husband, however, do not buy this argument. “I felt so humiliated with the questions they asked. The district child protection officer described cerebral palsy as a ‘mental disease’ and expressed apprehensions about my communication skills. I fail to understand how someone in that position can have such ideas,” Ghosh alleged.

TOI spoke to the officer, Debangana Barik, who said she “did not want to hurt” Ghosh at all. “My language issue might have created a problem. I am very impressed with her personality and she is completely fit to take care of the baby. Her adoption case is a success story for all of us here,” Barik added. But the new parents’ legal work is still not over. Bhujungu is, legally, in Ghosh’s and Nag’s foster care right now. “We are going to file a court application in Keonjhar soon and, within 60 days of that, we expect to get the order that will make us her legal parents,” Ghosh said.

The Saptaparni flat has undergone a sea change, with nappies, oil cloth and feeding bottles strewn all over the drawing room. Both parents are on leave now. Bhujungu has a twinkle in her eyes when Jeeja rocks the pram. She tilts her head and then lazily rests her little toes on the pram handle. Friends and relatives are dropping by regularly with cartloads of gifts for the little one. Nag, too, is a complete hands-on father, from feeding Bhujungu to cleaning her when she soils herself. Ghosh’s octogenarian mother, a dementia patient, is thrilled. Seated in a wheelchair close to the pram, she intermittently utters the baby’s name aloud. On rare occasions, when memory serves her right, seeing Ghosh and her daughter is a reminder for the old lady of her own motherhood tales of fighting against odds to bring up a daughter.

Jeeeja's successful adoption of a child has set a benchmark and given hope to several persons with disabilities that they, too, can become parents.

Times of India, Kolkata 13 June 18: Kolkata woman may be first with cerebral palsy to adopt a baby
Times of India, Kolkata 14 June 18: Disabled persons see beacon of hope in Jeeja adoption story

Monday, September 21, 2009

Dear Friends,

Our archaic laws still exists while new ones keep coming but there is hardly an attempt to scrap or amend the old laws. This often leads to situations like this. In the instant case while a family wanted to adopt a girl child under the new child friendly legislation called Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act of 2000 but they couldn't because the archaic law on adoption named Hindu Adoption and Maintenance Act came in the way.

The family had to approach the court to get the matter settled but why can't such exercise be carried out while notifying the new law that no relevant existing law is in contradiction of the law, so that a process to amend /scrap the old law could be taken then and there. Well, in the instant case, the Hon'ble Supreme court finally held that the New law will override the old provisions of Hindu Adoption and Maintenance Act.

Also it is all the more important to do this in view of the paradigm shift that we see in the status of SC/ST, gays, HIV patients, the women, the disabled, the elderly and those who were not in the mainstream till now, with the introduction of new laws, signing of new international treaties, landmark judgements from the Supreme Court of India etc.

In fact, a detailed exercise is needed by the Union Ministry of Law and also by the Law Ministries in various Indian States to ensure that no existing laws/rules/practices/norms etc are in contradiction the new socio-economic and legal order based on equal rights and non-discrimination.


SC Vashishth, Advocate

To read from source click here

MUMBAI: Hindus who have always wanted to adopt a girl even though they already have a daughter can now do just that. The Hindu adoption law prohibits same gender adoptions but, in a landmark judgment this week, the Bombay High Court has thrown open the legal doors to allow Hindus adopt a child of the same gender as their existing one.

In the verdict, the HC allowed a recent petition by Mumbai-based actor couple (names withheld on request) to be legally declared as adoptive parents of a girl they had taken in as their ward over four years ago under the Juvenile Justice Act.

The couple had a two-year-old biological daughter of their own when they sought and were allowed by the court in 2005 to become guardians of a year-old destitute baby girl. Stating that courts must harmonise personal laws with secular legislation, Justice D Y Chandrachud held the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act of 2000 — a secular law enabling rehabilitation of abandoned children through adoption — would prevail over the Hindu Adoption and Maintenance Act (Hama), a personal law that has placed certain restrictions on adoption.

Justice Chandrachud took up the Pathaks’ issue seriously as it “involved the larger issue of encouraging adoption and giving an abandoned child a chance in life’’. He looked closely at adoption laws under their various avtars and at the Indian Constitution as well as the Convention on the Rights of the Child which India had ratified in 1992 before ruling that “adoption is a facet of right to life and that freedom and dignity are the foremost values of governance in civil society and freedom and dignity of the young must count above all’’.

This was the first time the court was interpreting provisions of two conflicting legal provisions on adoption; it had a 54-year-old Hindu Adoption Act and the more progressive nine-year-old Juvenile Justice Act, which introduced adoption of abandoned children and gave it a wider platform. The Hindu law places stringent conditions and prohibits adoption of a child of the same gender where an adoptive father or mother already have a child living at that time.

For instance, if the adoption is of a daughter the adoptive parent must not have a Hindu daughter or a son’s daughter living at the time of adoption. Conditions are stricter while adopting a son and adoptive parents must not have a Hindu son, a grandson or even a great-grandson alive.

The Juvenile Justice Act, a countrywide beneficial social law, came in 2000 and introduced a ‘child-friendly’ approach towards adoption “in the interest of ultimate rehabilitation of a narrow sub-class of children who are orphaned, abandoned or surrendered’’.

The HC, after hearing advocate Vishal Kanade for Pathak, held: “Right to life includes rights of parents and of individuals, women and men, who wish to adopt to give meaning to their lives on the one hand and, on the other hand, is the right of abandoned children who are in need of special care and protection."