The Bombay High Court recently allowed an adoption petition filed by a 66-year-old man, Mathew Inacio Abreo, who sought adoption of a 22-year-old girl, Malaico Abreo, who was raised by him and his wife. Justice Kulkarni, who was presiding over the case, declared the petitioner as the adoptive parent whilst granting him the liberty to apply before the Municipal Authorities to issue a birth certificate of the girl born on June 16, 1997 and listing the petitioner and his late wife as her father and mother.

Back in 1998, the petitioner and his wife had filed a guardian petition which was allowed thus appointing the petitioner and his wife as guardians of Malaica who was less than 2 years old at the time. It was submitted that Malaica remained under the petitioner’s guardianship throughout since 1998, and if adoption was not granted, it would cause a serious prejudice to Malaica as she would be deprived for her legitimate entitlement to the legal status to have the petitioner as her parent and would be considered an orphan although she was brought up by the petitioner as his own daughter. A previous case of Manuel Theodore vs. Unknown in 2000, was cited to contend that it would be a necessary requirement to recognize a constitutional right of a citizen to have a family and parents in adoption.

It was stated that the petitioner had no other biological children and his wife had passed away in 2018 after suffering from a heart attack. An adoption home study was conducted in October 2019, which proved that the petitioner was indeed a committed father to Malaica. The report also included that the petitioner has been suffering from pancreatic cancer and was undergoing chemotherapy at a hospital in Andheri and thus was in dire need of his daughter’s support, love and affection at this crucial time.

The court observed that in Lakshmi Kant Pandey vs. Union of India, Apex court considered the conditions to be imposed on foreigners taking a child in adoption at relevant time and that even today there is no statutory enactment in India providing for adoption of child by foreign parents or laying down of the procedures which must be followed.

Justice Kulkarni noted, “Malaica is now well integrated into the petitioner’s family and is an inextricable part of the petitioner’s family. In the facts of the case, Malaica is definitely in requirement of being conferred a legal status of being the daughter of the petitioner. Malaica has to lead her life with dignity and confidence which she would be able to do when the petitioner’s right to adopt her is recognized and reciprocally Malaica’s right to be adopted by the petitioner also finds a legal recognition. It is thus necessary that these basic human rights as guaranteed and recognized by the Constitution are enforced and implemented. Hence, it is imperative to permit adoption of Malaica by the petitioner even when Malaica has now attained majority by applying the principles as laid down by the in the case of Manuel Theodore.”

Justice Kulkarni also interacted with Malaica, thus observing that she was eagerly awaiting legal recognition of her status as the petitioner’s daughter. Thus, the petition was allowed.

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Link to judgment: Mathew Inacio Abreo’s case