Thursday, September 2, 2010

Women get equal rights in guardianship, adoption of children

NEW DELHI: Women in India will now have equal rights in guardianship and adoption of children with the President giving assent to an Act to amend laws governing marriages in the country.

Parliament had recently passed the Personal Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2010 to amend the Guardians and Wards Act, 1890 and the Hindu Adoptions and Maintenance Act, 1956.

"The President assented to the Personal Laws (Amendment) Act, 2010 on August 31, 2010 and it is published in the Gazette of India as Act 30 of 2010 on September 1, 2010," an official statement said on Wednesday.

According to the Guardians and Wards Act, which applies to Christians, Muslims, Parsis and Jews, if a couple adopts a child, the father is the natural guardian.

The amendment to the 120 year-old Act allows the mother along with the father to be appointed as a guardian, making the process gender neutral.

The Act provides for the mother to be appointed as a guardian along with the father so that the courts do not appoint anyone else in case the father dies.

The second amendment in the Hindu Adoption Maintenance Act, 1956, (applicable to Hindus, Jains, Buddhists and Sikhs) aims to remove the hurdles in the way of a married woman to adopt and also give a child for adoption.

Presently, unmarried and divorced women as also widows are allowed to adopt a child but women separated from their husbands and engaged in lengthy divorce battles cannot adopt a child.

The new amendment would allow a married woman separated from her husband to adopt with the consent of her husband even during the time of divorce proceedings.

However, if he changes his religion or is declared to be of unsound mind, no consent from the estranged husband will be required.

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