Individuals in a live-in relationship will be able to adopt children within India after the Child Adoption Regulatory Authority (CARA) decided to withdraw a circular issued earlier this year barring them from doing so. CARA, in a circular issued on May 31, had barred applicants in a live-in relationship from adopting a child on the ground that “the Authority would like the children to be placed only with a stable family and individuals in a live-in relationship cannot be considered as stable family.”
“We have decided to withdraw the circular and applications from prospective adoptive parents will be examined on a case-by-case basis,” stated Secretary, Women and Child Development Ministry, R.K. Shrivastava. The decision was taken at the last meeting of the steering committee of CARA, and is aimed at benefiting both domestic and international applicants. The eligibility criteria under Adoption Regulations 2017, permitted single women to adopt a child of any gender, but single men could only adopt boys. However, a married couple seeking to adopt a child needs to give its consent for adoption and should be in stable marriage for a minimum period of two years. Applicants should also be physically, mentally and financially stable to raise a child.
The Supreme Court in Indra Sarma v. V.K.V. Sarma has defined live-in relationships as constituting a domestic cohabitation between an adult unmarried male and an adult unmarried female. It further stated that if a man and a woman “lived like husband and wife” in a long-term relationship, with or without children, the judiciary would presume the two to be married, and the laws governing marriage would be applied. In another case, the court declared that for a man and a woman in love to live together should be considered as part of their right to life and not as a “criminal offence”.