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Kerala HC: Child of live in couple deemed child of married couple

2 min read
Kerala high court law insider)

Elisha Vaswani

The Kerala High Court in a unique matter of adoption observed that for the purpose of adoption, a child of a live in couple shall be treated as a child borne out of marriage.

On 10th April, the above observation was considered to be essential for the purpose of Juvenile Justice Act and Adoption laws.

The division Bench of Justice A Muhamed Mustaque and Dr Kauser Edappagath concluded that for the purpose of “surrendering a child for adoption” under the Juvenile Justice Act, the Child Welfare Committee shall treat a child born to a couple in a live-in relationship as if it was born to a married couple.

The question laying before the court was, whether a child born to a couple in a live-in relationship could be equated to that of a married couple for the purpose of surrender.

Answering the question in affirmative, the Court remarked, “Marriage as a social institution depends upon personal law or secular law like Special Marriage Act. It has no bearing on the concept of Juvenile Justice… In a live-in relationship, a couple acknowledges the mutual rights and obligations. It is more of a contract. Offspring in such a relationship is acknowledging biological parental rights of both.”

Another point of relevance being, the birth certificate of the child in question bears the names of the actual birth parents, which implies the intention of the couple to materialise and acknowledge their bond.

In the Court’s view the Child Welfare Committee was not correct in inquiring the legal status of marriage since it wasn’t competent to do so in the first place.

The Court further observed, “Once it is found that the child is born to a couple, for all practical purposes of JJ Act, inquiry must be initiated as though the child belonged to a married couple.”