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Live-in couples can't adopt kids

Last updated: 13 December, 2011
Chethan Kumar & Sandeep Moudgal, Bangalore, dec 12, DHNS: 2:18 IST

Despite the Supreme Court observations that a live-in relationship is akin to marriage, the Karnataka government has said that a couple living together is not eligible to adopt a child.

The State Government’s stand has been clarified following its republishing of the Union Ministry of Women and Child Development’s notification of guidelines governing the adoption of children, 2011 on December 8.

The notification, a copy of which is available with Deccan Herald, makes it unlawful for couples in a live-in relationship to adopt a child. Under the additional eligibility criteria for prospective adoptive parents (PAPs) the notification said: “Couples in a live-in relationship are not eligible to adopt a child.”

And Ramesh Zalki, Secretary, State Women and Child Development Department said: “Both the parents need to be legally wed in order to adopt and the law is put in place keeping in mind the development of the child.”

However, there seems to be a grey area in the legislation and some activists are opposed to it. Kumar V Jahgirdar, a child rights activist and the President of Children’s Rights Initiative For Shared Parenting (CRISP) said: “We are fighting for gender neutrality and we find that something is amiss when such laws are framed even after the country’s apex court has given legal sanction for such relationships.”

The views, he said, appear contrary to observations made by the Supreme Court in more than one case.

In the case of D Velusamy versus D Patchaiammal, the Supreme Court observed on October 21, 2010: “...A relationship in the nature of marriage is akin to common law marriage. Common law marriages require that although not be formally married, the couple must hold themselves out to society as being akin to spouses, they must be of legal age to marry, they must be otherwise qualified to enter into a legal marriage, including being unmarried.”

It is said that such couples must have voluntarily co-habited and held themselves out to the world as being akin to spouses for a significant period of time.

In the case of Chandra Deo Singh and Shakuntala, the SC observed that long term live-in relationships are not illegitimate and neither are children born out of such relationships.

While the SC has noted that even biological children from such couples are not illegitimate, the notification preventing such couples from adopting comes as a surprise to activists.

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