The Bombay High Court has ordered interim stay on the transfer of pending adoption matters to the District Magistrates for adjudication.

The bench of Justice G.S. Patel and Justice S.G. Dige was dealing with the plea challenging vires of the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Amendment Act 2021 to the extent that the word ‘Court’ is replaced with ‘District Magistrate’.

Advocate Vishal Kanade appeared for the Petitioners whereas AGP Jyoti Chavan appeared for State.

The effect of this amendment according to the Petitioners and the Intervenors is that an exclusive jurisdiction over all adoptions including foreign adoptions will now be with the District Magistrate.

“Until now at least adoptions were with the judges of the High Court and many of us have, while on the Bench, handled these cases. It is not shown to us that there has been any complaint about the handling of these cases. We have yet to see the justification for the amendment.”, the Court noted while granting interim stay.

The High Court directed that the Courts can continue with the adjudication of the adoption matters that are pending on their record till next date of hearing.

The Court observed that “While considering interim relief, we must bear in mind the primary objective which is the interest of the children and infants who are to be adopted whether these are domestic or foreign adoptions. The concerns of the adoptive parents are also involved. In considering ad-interim relief, we have to bear in mind the interests of the minors who are put up for adoption and the interests of the adopted parents.”

“Presently, the adoptions are being handled by Single Judges of this Court. This has continued for a very long period of time and nothing is shown to us to indicate why for a limited period of time of about four weeks this should not be continued until we finally hear the challenge. No prejudice will be caused to any party if the existing system continues.”, the Court added further.

The Court issued notice to the Attorney General while listing the matter for final disposal on February 14, 2023.

Cause Title- Nisha Pradeep Pandya & Anr v. Union of India & Ors

Click here to read/download Order