SC irked over non-functional SAAs, including in Arunachal

NEW DELHI, 9 Jul: The Supreme Court on Tuesday took strong note of the failure to set up specialised adoption agencies (SAA), meant to streamline the adoption process of abandoned and surrendered children, in 370 out of 760 districts in the country, and ordered the chief secretaries of 29 states and UTs to either comply with the order or face contempt proceedings.

According to the top court’s orders, all 34 states and union territories had to mandatorily set up SAAs in every district by 31 January, but only five have complied.

It has now directed the chief secretaries of the rest of the states and UTs to file a compliance report on or before 30 August, failing which they will have to appear before the court on 2 September to explain why contempt proceedings should not be started against them.

The SAAs prepare the home study report of the prospective adoptive parents, and after finding them eligible, refer a child declared legally free for adoption to them along with the child study report and the medical report.

To have functional SAAs is a necessary legal requirement under the Juvenile Justice Act.

A bench comprising Chief Justice DY Chandrachud and Justices JB Pardiwala and

Manoj Misra lamented the non-setting up of SAAs in 370 districts by states and UTs after it was flagged by Additional Solicitor General Aishwarya Bhati, appearing for the Centre, and decided to take “coercive” measures.

Twenty-nine states and UTs have not complied with the direction of the court, with Andhra Pradesh, Arunachal Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Delhi, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Jharkhand, Nagaland, Punjab, Telangana, Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand being the major defaulters.

The law officers said that in UP, 61 out of 75 districts, and in Uttarakhand, 10 out of 13 districts lack functional SAAs.

“We are compelled to take coercive proceedings against the state governments and the union territories since, despite repeated efforts and repeated opportunities, the SAAs have not been set up in all districts.

“We accordingly direct the chief secretaries of all the states and UTs as mentioned in Annexure to file a compliance report on or before 30 August, failing which they shall remain personally present before this court on 2 September to explain why they should not be proceeded against the exercise of contempt jurisdiction,” the bench ordered.

It also asked the states and the UTs to file affidavits explaining whether the timelines stipulated under the adoption regulations of 2022 for facilitating the process of adoption are being duly complied with.

The bench asked them to also disclose the data on the actual time taken to complete the adoption process.

“They (affidavits) shall also indicate the reasons why the timelines as stipulated in the regulations are not being complied with,” it said. (PTI)