The Case Of Shabnam Hashmi A Landmark Precedent For Secular Adoption In India

The term adoption is not a new term. It is an old practice in Greece. The law related to the adoption was there in Greece. Only an adult, sound adult who is not having any child can go for adoption. There are 3 types of adoption which has been recognized in Greece. They are listed below:

a.The first one is adoption inter-vivos;
b. The second one is through the testamentary manner;
c. And the last one is related to the adoption where any relative adopts a child in the name of deceased.

In the first category of adoption, through a contract adoption was done and as per the religious practice the
other two categories are dealt. Although, this term came into existence in Greece but was not used during the roman period, later on it became as a practice in the modern world. Before this practice, the abandoned children were used for slavery. But when this system of slavery became prevalent then the concept of guardianship got its importance. The church promoted the idea of adoption when the illegitimate children were neglected by the society. But if we talk about the India and china, they had this system right from the beginning and it was governed through their personal laws. China has uniformed the adoption in 1981. Earlier, the common law did not permit adoption.

The term adoption can also be referred as a legal birth of child into the prospective intended adoptive family when
there is a civil death of a natural born child in the family. It is similar to transplantation of the child from one family to another as it is one of the pious deeds to help a homeless child and blessings for both.

In India, if we observe the history, we will find that under ancient Hindu law, it was believed that for the purpose of performance of religious practice and continuation of the lineage, there was a requirement of a son. Ancient Hindu law was not clear about the adoption of a female child. It was neither approved nor prohibited resulted into the rare adoption of a girl child. Also, the women under Hindu Law were not permitted to adopt a child. The theory of Relation back was followed in case of adoption if done by a female. But later on, it has been abolished by India. This is how the concept of adoption has been recognized under Hindu law. Though there was gender biasness in terms of adoption.

There was dominance of personal law over the concept of adoption.
After the enactment of the Hindu Adoption and  Maintenance Act, 1956, gender biasness has been abolished as mentioned earlier. Everyone is now permitted to adopt a child under following conditions. Now, both the boy and a girl child can be adopted by the intended adoptive parents. It was also said to have a secular object in terms of adoption. Now, the married couples are allowed to go for adoption i.e., can adopt a child with the prior consent of the other spouse. A widow, spinster, widower and even a bachelor can go for the adoption of the child. A person is barred to adopt a child of same sex in a case where he has a natural biological child or an adopted one. There should not be any prohibition on this issue and the question is why this prohibition is still there?

In the case of Sandhya v. Union of India, the question about its secular nature has been discussed. It was formulated by the court of law that it does have a mythological and a secular mission. It is secular only in terms of adoption of a child of any gender. It is available only for Hindus. It is the case where the various provisions of the Hindu Adoption and Maintenance Act have been challenged in the court of law and to be violative of Article 14 and 21 of Indian Constitution. But th e court of law held it as constitutionally valid.

Suppose if a person has a child born naturally after the adoption, there is a chance of bias attitude of the adoptive
parents. Sushmita Sen, one of the famous Film stars has promoted the institution of adoption by adopting two
daughters which is technically not permitted by Hindu Law. She has adopted the second girl child under the Guardians and Wards Act, 1890 and also fought for the parental right and it was granted by the Bombay High Court. The thing is that the rule and regulations is always for the common man and not for the High Class people.

The term adoption can also be referred as a legal birth of child into the prospective intended adoptive family when there is a civil death of a natural born child in the family.

When we talk adoption under Islam, it is not recognized. Also, Islam is not against the concept of adoption. We all know that Sunnah is accepted as a source of Islamic jurisprudence and if Quran is silent on the concept of adoption then we must follow the Sunnah. For example Prophet Muhammad, he has adopted a slave as his son
called Zayd. As we know that Islam follows the philosophy of charity, in helping poor, needy ones and a destitute one. It does not object the practice of adoption but it does not favour in giving the name of the intended parents to the child through adoption. The adopted child Zayd was known as Zayd-bin-Haritha because he was the son of Haritha. One fine day, when his natural father called him back then he refused to leave Prophet Muhammad and therefore his natural father has disowned him. After this, Prophet Muhammad gave his own name to him. After the revelation of Holy Quran, giving one’s name to the child who has been adopted was not accepted.
As these verses explains: “Nor has He (Allâh) made your adopted sons your sons. Such is (only) your (manner of) speech by your mouths. But God tells the truth, and He shows the way. Call them by (the names of) their fathers, that is better in the sight of God”. (33:5)

In 2014, the judgment of Shabnam Hashmi provided the adoption as the Fundamental Right. It was permitted that any person irrespective of religion can adopt a child under the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children)
Act, 2000. 

After the Holy Quran revelation, a boy named as Zayd and was known by his earlier name and not of Prophet’s
name. When we analyze the concept of adoption under Islam, it is permitted but at the same time, the name of the
adoptive father should not be provided. Expressly, it has not been prohibited a person from inheriting the property of the adoptive father. Though, the father is still free to give away his one third of property.

If we talk about Christianity, they were never against the concept of adoption in India. It was believed that there was no adoption until the case of Phillip Alfred Malvin v. V.J. Gonsalves. In the present case, cannon laws were followed in order to check whether the religion permits the adoption process or not. Indeed, it is one of the noble deeds and it has got nothing to do with the religion. Adoption falls under the umbrella of the personal law because the issues related to the property and other family matter are being governed by the personal laws. Now, the concept of adoption is being strengthened by CARA guidelines within India when we face the issue related to adoption scam. After that, the law related to adoption liberalized with the enactment of the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2000 by inserting provisions for adoption. As per my understanding, the concept of adoption is now losing its significance due to the newer concept of Surrogacy. It is much better to provide
and develop the life of a child who is already there in this world than having a new life as child through surrogacy
because it is free from religion clause.

There was no uniformity of law for adoption in India until the judgment of Shabnam Hashmi which has solved the
related issue. In 2014, the judgment of Shabnam Hashmi provided the adoption as the Fundamental Right. It was
permitted that any person irrespective of religion can adopt a child under the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2000. This case was presented by Shabnam Hashmi in 2005. She had only guardianship rights over a girl adopted by her as granted by the court because as per the Muslim Law, adoption is not allowed. She claimed that adoption should be allowed on Humanitarian grounds and as a Fundamental Right as well. After the finality of this case, the judgment has permitted all the future intended parents to go for adoption process (can adopt a child) under the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2000  irrespective of religion and it was also held that this act is of secular nature for the purpose of adoption of children under prescribed procedure.
Besides this, we also have CARA which provides us certain guidelines which should be followed while adopting a child (Intercountry and Intra-country adoptions). The question is that why should we include adoption under personal law as a part of religion? Why do we have different legislation and guidelines dealing with this noble act of adoption? For example, we have:

a.The Hindu Adoption and Maintenance Act, 1956;
b. The Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2000;
c. Guardianship and Wards Act, 1890
d. CARA and SARA guidelines

In India, there is a requirement of having a common and a uniform law for adoption instead of numerous legislations and guidelines because it should not be based upon the concept of gender or religion. Different safety measures should be included in order to curb scams related to the adoption.
In Payal at Sharinee Vinayak Pathak, the court of law has decided that the bar on adoption of child of same sex under the Hindu law will give way to statutory provisions in the Juvenile Justice Act which permitted the childless parents to adopt a child irrespective of child sex of the biological children.

In Secretary, Subhadra Mahatab Seva Sadan of Kolathia v. State of Orissa, it was held that the abandoned child (two sisters) can be adopted for their care and protection under Juvenile Justice Act.

In the US most of the states have made their law based on the uniform adoption law. It is not a fundamental right to adopt. Most of the nations they permit one of the two adoptions, either open adoption or closed adoption.
Some nations permits both form of adoptions. The rules are not based on any religion but a uniform approach is
being followed. We need to settle these issues by securing a place for Uniform Civil Code. In India, it is challenging to be bring it into real practice but by the way of adoption a step towards Uniform Civil Code can be initiated.

We need to make this practice as a welfare scheme in order to release it from the shackles of religious prohibition. The state should encourage the practice of adoption instead of promoting surrogacy so that uniform law of adoption can help the needy child to get a home.

We need to make this practice as a welfare scheme in order to release it from the shackles of religious prohibition. Judiciary through its decisions has provided the welfare mechanism to the uniformity of Adoption such as Shabnam Hashmi and Philip Alfred Malvin. The state should encourage the practice of adoption instead of promoting surrogacy so that uniform law of adoption can help the needy child to get a home. As of now, the judiciary has provided the uniformity of adoption through its judgment and now, it is duty of the legislature to provide Uniform law for adoption which is the need of the hour.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *