New Delhi: Norms for adoption of children in India are set to be eased with government bringing a bill which provides for treating NRIs at par with resident Indians in terms of adoption and facilitates inter-country adoption.

The proposed new law will also cover offences against children such as sale and procurement of children for purpose including illegal adoption, corporal punishment in child-care institutions, use of a child by militant groups, offences against disabled children, kidnapping and abduction of children.

Moving the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Bill in Lok Sabha, Minister for Child and Woman Development Menaka Gandhi referred to the issue of adoptions. "The provisions in existing laws are cumbersome and it takes too long to adopt a child...It is proposed to treat NRIs at par with Indians which is not the case currently," she said.

In case a child is not placed in domestic adoption within 69 days of declearing him legally free, then it is proposed to make the child available for inter-country adoption, she said. The Bill also seeks to accord statutory status to the existing Central Adoption Resource Authority (CARA) to enable it to function more effectively.

Besides, Gandhi said, the bill will also provide for sponsorhip and foster care to ensure a shelter for the abandoned or orphaned child. "Both (non-institutional measures) are new to India. Although these measures are not new in the world, we have defined them in the bill to bring in more clarity," she said.

The principle behind these non-institutional measures, she said, was to provide "every child with a family like environment, which is conducive for his or her growth." She said under the existing provisions, the institutions housing orphan, abandoned or surrendered children were not linked to the Speciliazed Adoption Agencies and hence often the children were not placed for adoption.