SC helps unite 20-year old’s unborn child with interested adoptive parents
The court ordered AIIMS to take all necessary precautions in the interest of the safety and health of the mother and the fetus so that a suitable date for delivery can be fixed
The Supreme Court on Thursday exercised its extraordinary constitutional powers to help a young woman who wished to abort her late-stage pregnancy by arranging for her delivery at AIIMS and directing the child to be given for adoption to a couple registered with government-run Central Adoption Resources Agency (CARA).
The couple had expressed desire to have the child after learning about the plight of the 20-year-old.
A bench headed by Chief Justice of India (CJI) Dhananjaya Y Chandrachud said, “We are adopting the present course of action consistent with the jurisdiction of this court under Article 142 of the Constitution having regard to the extraordinary situation which has emerged before the Court involving a young woman in distress, who moved this Court at a late stage of her pregnancy.”
The bench, also comprising justices PS Narasimha and JB Pardiwala, further said, “Having regard to the late stage of the pregnancy, it has been considered in the best interest of the mother and the fetus that the child, upon delivery, may be given in adoption. The request for adoption has been suggested by the petitioner since she would not be in a position to care for the child.”
The order was pronounced after the bench held a long discussion on the course of action they intended to take. The apex court called the young girl’s lawyer Amit Mishra in their chamber along with additional solicitor general (ASG) Aishwarya Bhati, who was asked to assist the court in counseling the petitioner, a BTech student, and Solicitor General Tushar Mehta who came to the court with the proposal of the prospective adoptive parents belonging to a ‘good family’ and were willing to raise the child.
Mishra, who briefly argued in open court said that the situation of the petitioner was precarious as she stopped attending college since her pregnancy became visible. She had stopped attending classes and feared the accompanying social stigma due to which she wanted to get the child delivered at the earliest.
The court ordered AIIMS to take all necessary precautions in the interest of the safety and health of the mother and the fetus so that a suitable date for delivery can be fixed. The director of AIIMS was further requested to ensure that all necessary facilities are made available without the payment of fees, charges or expenses of any nature so that the delivery can take place in a safe environment.
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Having interacted with the girl, ASG Bhati said her elder sister was approached first to adopt the child but she expressed her inability. She lost her father during the Covid-19 pandemic and her mother who is unwell had no clue about the pregnancy. As regards to adoption, Bhati said CARA had conducted the “home study” of the prospective couple and found them suitable. They were entitled to adopt a child that was 0-2 months old. She said that the ministry will facilitate the formalities for adoption once the court passes any order.
In the interest of the girl’s privacy, the court requested AIIMS to not divulge the identity of the petitioner during the course of her hospitalisation. The court even refrained them from mentioning CARA registration details of the prospective parents.
Granting permission for adoption by the couple whose details are set out in the CARA registration form, the bench held, “CARA shall take all necessary steps to facilitate the implementation of this order.”
Last month, the apex court dealt with the petition filed by the girl carrying a 29-week fetus seeking abortion. The SC then constituted a medical board at AIIMS to examine her and the fetus. A report by the board suggested that the chances of survival of the child were 80%, and that if the petitioner was unwilling to have the child, it will be kept under neo natal care.
Following this report, the SC asked Bhati to interact with the girl who agreed to deliver the baby if all attending needs are taken care of. After pronouncing the order, Bhati informed the bench that the petitioner is happy with the development.