Dip in children coming to adoption agencies points to trafficking or illegal market: Par panel
A parliamentary standing committee has expressed serious concern over the decline in the number of children coming to adoption agencies over the years, saying it points to trafficking or a thriving illegal child adoption market.
The committee on personnel, public grievances, law and justice tabled its report on the review of guardianship and adoption laws in Parliament in the recently concluded Monsoon session.
The committee stressed the need to increase surveillance, especially on unregistered child care institutions and adoption agencies/hospitals with the past record of trafficking.
The committee also expresses serious concern about decline in the number of children coming to adoption agencies over the years. This decline, by and large, points to trafficking or a thriving illegal child adoption market, the report stated.
The committee stressed it is important to get a true picture of the number of children who are orphaned/abandoned through a district-level survey and the data needs to be updated on a regular basis.
A meeting chaired by the district magistrate should be held in each district every month to take stock of the situation and to ensure that orphan and abandoned children found begging in streets are produced before the Child Welfare Committee and are made available for adoption at the earliest, it said.
The panel also said it feels that it is important to prevent illegal and informal adoptions so that a larger pool of children are available for placing them in adoption with the families registering for adoption under the Juvenile Justice Act.
The committee said it is of the considered opinion that judges have the competence, experience and skills to determine whether adoption is in the best interest of the child.
"When deciding on adoption, courts review documents, ensure necessary procedures have been complied with, and conduct an inquiry of the child and adoptive parents and ensure that adoption is for the welfare of the child," it said.
The panel said it feels it is not appropriate for an administrative authority to issue adoption orders instead of a judicial body.
"However, since the Act has been amended and the new system is yet to be tried and tested, the committee recommends that appropriate training should be imparted to district magistrates & additional district magistrates and divisional commissioners as well. The committee recommends the Ministry of Women and Child Development to review the functioning of the new system, after a year and present an assessment report to the committee accordingly," it said.
In 2021, the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Amendment Act was passed to amend various provisions of the Juvenile Justice Act, 2015 which included giving the responsibility of adoption to the district magistrate instead of courts.