The Supreme Court ruled that Muslims can adopt a child under the Juvenile Justice Law as its enforcement could not be impeded by the Muslim personal law. An apex court bench headed by Chief Justice of India P Sathasivam said the rules framed under the Juvenile Justice Law were an enabling provision which is applicable to all religions and communities and the same could not be frustrated by personal religious beliefs.
“Personal beliefs and faiths, though must be honoured, cannot dictate the operation of the provisions of an enabling statute. 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,” the bench observed.
Disagreeing with the Personal Law Board’s contention that Islamic Law does not recognise an adopted child to be at par with a biological child, the bench said Islam also does not prohibit a childless couple from taking care of and protecting a child with material and emotional support. “While it is correct that the dimensions and perspectives of the meaning and content of fundamental rights are in a process of constant evolution... elevation of the right to adopt or to be adopted to the status of a Fundamental Right, in our considered view, will have to await a dissipation of the conflicting thought processes in this sphere of belief in the country,” the bench said.
The court said this on a petition by activist Shabnam Hashmi, who had sought the framing of guidelines on the adoption of children by people belonging to all religions and communities.