A division bench of the Bombay High Court comprising Justice GS Patel and Justice Neela Gokhale has issued a notice to the ministry of home affairs in a plea seeking the issuance of a passport to a one-year-old girl with Afghan parents.
The notice was issued in a plea filed by Bharatiya Samaj Seva Kendra (BSSK) Pune through its executive director. It stated that the child, named Atlas, was born to an Afghan couple on September 8, 2021, and was surrendered to BSSK the next day. The organisation said that since the child was born in India, she was entitled to an Indian passport.
The Child Welfare Committee follows a process to declare an infant as being free/fit for adoption. BSSK submitted that ‘Atlas’ i.e, the girl, has not yet been declared free/fit for adoption and that the process might itself be hindered simply for want of a citizenship document in her name.
BSSK informed the court that adoptive parents from overseas will find it impossible to take the infant out of the country unless she has a travel document, namely a passport, in her own name with a properly issued visa for the country of destination.
The court said, “That may be technically correct, but what is presented to us is an issue in anticipation of a future problem: Atlas, even if declared ‘fit for adoption’, will find no adoptive parents and will not successfully be adopted without a travel document. Section 8 of the Foreigners Act 1946 is invoked.”
The division bench also said that the issue was a narrow one and could be resolved with the cooperation of all parties.
“Since the legal issue appears to us to be narrow — and in all probability not contentious, one that can probably be resolved with some cooperation from all concerned — we request the assistance of Mr Aditya Thakkar or some other Advocate from the office of the Additional Solicitor General of India on behalf of the 4th Respondent, the Ministry of Home Affairs,” the HC said.
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