Legal heir certificate for adopted child cannot be granted without valid adoption or supporting documents: Kerala High Court

The Kerala High Court recently held that a legal heirship certificate cannot be granted to an adopted person in the absence of valid documents that prove the adoption [Prameela L v State of Kerala & Ors.].

A division bench consisting of Justices Alexander Thomas and C Jayachandran passed this order while considering a plea moved by a woman (petitioner) challenging the decision of the Tahsildar refusing to grant her legal heir certificate.

In order to apply for a compassionate appointment under a dying-in-harness scheme, the petitioner approached the Tahsildar for a legal heir certificate to declare that she was adopted by her late stepfather, Gopalan.

However, the Tahsildar refused to grant her legal heir certificate on the ground that she did not produce valid documents to prove that she was adopted.

This prompted her to approach the High Court.

She submitted various documents such as the settlement deed, death cum retirement gratuity, etc. to prove that she was effectively his adopted child.

She also pointed out that Gopalan could not have adopted her in terms of Section 10 of the Hindu Adoptions and Maintenance Act, 1956 since she was a Christian by religion.

Hence, it was futile for the concerned authorities to insist on a certificate of adoption in terms of the said Act, she submitted.

There was no law enabling an adoption of a Christian adoptive daughter by a Hindu adoptive parent, she said. Therefore, the insistence on proof of a valid and legal adoption is an impossibility in itself, the petitioner added.

The High Court considered the documents submitted and found that none of the documents proved the fact of adoption.

“In the absence of a valid and legal adoption, and in any case, in the absence of documents evidencing the factum of adoption, albeit not in terms of law, we cannot find fault with the respondent authorities in not issuing a Legal Heirship Certificate in favor of the petitioner,” observed the High Court.

The Court proceeded to hold that a legal heirship certificate cannot be granted in the absence of valid documents that prove adoption.

“More than the absence of a legal document evidencing a legal adoption, what weighs with us to refuse the relief sought for is the complete dearth of evidence suggesting an inference as to the factum of adoption from the materials on record,” the Court reasoned.

Therefore, the High Court upheld the decision of the Tahsildar and dismissed the petition.

The petitioner was represented by advocate A Balachandran Kulasekharam and VR Gopu.

The State, Tahsildar, and concerned authorities were represented by the Advocate General Office Kerala.


Source: Bar and Bench.

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