Irrespective of their religious background, people are free to adopt children, the Supreme Court ruled on Wednesday paving the way for adoption of child by persons hailing from Muslim community even though it is not allowed under their personal law.
Holding that Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act is a "small step" towards the concept of Uniform Civil Code, the apex court held that the law entitles adoption by people belonging to any religion and any person, who does not submit himself to personal law, can adopt a child.
"To us, the Act is a small step in reaching the goal enshrined by Article 44 of the Constitution(Uniform Civil Code). Personal beliefs and faiths, though must be honoured, cannot dictate the operation of the provisions of an enabling statute," a bench headed by Chief Justice P Sathasivam said. The Act does not mandate any compulsive action by any prospective parent leaving such person with the liberty of accessing the provisions of the Act, if he so desires, the court said. "Such a person is always free to adopt or choose not to do so and, instead, follow what he comprehends to be the dictates of the personal law applicable to him," the bench, also comprising justices Ranjan Gogoi and Shiva Kriti Singh, said.
The Bench said the Act is an enabling legislation that gives a prospective parent the option of adopting an eligible child by following due procedure. "At the cost of repetition we would like to say that an optional legislation that does not contain an unavoidable imperative cannot be stultified by principles of personal law which, however, would always continue to govern any person who chooses to so submit himself until such time that the vision of a uniform Civil Code is achieved.
"The same can only happen by the collective decision of the generation(s) to come to sink conflicting faiths and beliefs that are still active as on date," Justice Gogoi, who wrote the judgement, said.