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Adopting Child Directly From Biological Parents Not An Offence Under Section 80 Juvenile Justice Act: In Karnataka High Court

The Karnataka High Court ruled that without a declaration that a child has been abandoned by his biological or adoptive parents or guardians, filing a charge sheet under section 80 of the Juvenile Justice (Care And Protection Of Children) Act 2015 is meaningless.

Section 80 punishes anyone who adopts an orphan, abandoned, or surrendered child without following the provisions or procedures outlined in the JJ Act.

In the case of Banu Begum W/o Khajasab Alias Mehaboobsab Vs. State of Karnataka (Criminal Petition No. 100659 of 2021), a single judge bench of Justice Hemant Chandangoudar sitting in Dharwad allowed the petition filed by two couples and quashed the proceedings initiated against them under the Act.

According to the facts of the case, accused No.1 gave birth to twin babies on September 14, 2018. Accused No.3, who was married and had no children through accused No.4, planned to adopt accused No.1’s daughter. Accused Nos.1 and 2 agreed to give accused No.3 adoption on 14.9.2018, when accused No.1 came to the hospital for delivery and asked accused No.3 to come to the hospital. Accused No.1 gave birth to twin daughters, one of whom had a breathing problem, and the said daughter was taken by accused No.3 by registering the mother’s name as Jareena Begum and then adopting the daughters of accused Nos.1 and 2 by executing a deed on Rs.20/- stamp paper. The learned Magistrate took cognizance of the offense punishable under Section 80 of the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015 (the “Act”) and summoned the petitioners. This petition is being filed in response to the same.

The prosecution claimed that accused No.3 adopted the daughter born to accused Nos.1 and 2 without following the provisions or procedures prescribed by the Act, thereby committing an offense punishable under Section 80 of the Act.

The Magistrate took cognizance of the offense and summoned the petitioners in this case. Following that, the four accused went to the High Court.

The petitioners contended that the child alleged to have been adopted by accused No.3 is not an orphan, abandoned, or surrendered child, which would constitute the commission of an offense punishable under Section 80 of the Act. As a result, the charge sheet filed against the petitioners – accused is devoid of substance.

The learned High Court Government Pleader contends that accused No.3 committed the offence punishable under Section 80 of the Act by adopting the child without following the provisions or procedures set out in the Act.

The bench stated at the outset that a person commits an offense if he or she adopts an orphan, abandoned, or surrendered child without following the provisions or procedures outlined in the Act.

However, in this case, the child was not an abandoned, orphaned, or surrendered child as defined by Sections 2(1), 2(42), and 2(60) of the Act. Thus, in the absence of a declaration that the child has been abandoned by his biological or adoptive parents or guardians, the filing of the charge sheet is meaningless.

As a result, it granted the petition and stayed the proceedings against the petitioners.

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