THE Central Government Monday introduced an amendment bill to the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Amendment Act to empower district magistrates (DM) including additional district magistrates (ADM) to authorise orders of adoption.
The amendment bill was introduced by the Union Minister of Women and Child Development, Smriti Zubin Iranim amid opposition by Congress MP Shashi Tharoor, who said the proposed bill violated the principle of separation of powers as it assigned the responsibility of an adoption order to a DM instead of a civil court as an adoption order creates ‘legal rights’ for the child and adoptive parents.
The statement of objects and reasons to the bill states that by conferring power on the DM and SDM to pass the order of adoption, it seeks to address issues of delay in adoption and to propose that appeals on the orders of adoption may be preferred to the Divisional Commissioner.
It also seeks to incorporate provisions relating to educational qualifications for the members and stipulates eligibility conditions to select members of the Child Welfare Committee (CWC).
The exiting provision provides-
(4) No person shall be appointed as a member of the Committee unless such person has been actively involved in health, education or welfare activities pertaining to children for atleast seven years or is a practicing professional with a degree in child psychology or psychiatry or law or social work or sociology or human development.
The amendment Bill seeks to provide as follows-
“(4) No person shall be appointed as a member of the Committee unless he has a degree in child psychology or psychiatry or law or social work or sociology or human health or education or human development or special education for differently abled children and has been actively involved in health, education or welfare activities pertaining to children for seven years or is a practicing professional with a degree in child psychology or psychiatry or law or social work or sociology or human health or education or human development or special education for differently abled children.
It also seeks to add clause 4A to Section 27 as follows-
(4A) No person shall be eligible for selection as a member of the Committee, if he––
(i) has any past record of violation of human rights or child rights,
(ii) has been convicted of an offence involving moral turpitude, and such conviction has not been reversed or has not been granted full pardon in respect of such offence,
(iii) has been removed or dismissed from service of the Government of India or State Government or an undertaking or corporation owned or controlled by the Government of India or State Government,
(iv) has ever indulged in child abuse or employment of child labour or immoral act or any other violation of human rights or immoral acts, or
(v) is part of management of a child care institution in a District.”.
The amendment bill also seeks to categorise offences wherein maximum sentence is more than seven years imprisonment but no minimum sentence, or a minimum sentence of less than seven years has been provided as “serious offences” under the Juvenile Justice Act.
It also empowers the DM to call for any any information from all the stakeholders including the Juveline Justice Board and CWC.