New Delhi: Women in India may get equal
rights in guardianship and adoption of children as a
parliamentary panel today unanimously recommended that a bill
which seeks to amend two Acts in this regard be passed in
the present form.
The Personal Laws Amendment Bill, 2010 -- introduced in
the Rajya Sabha on April 22 -- was referred to the
Parliamentary Standing Committee on Law and Justice for
eliciting public opinion on the issue.
In its report tabled in both Houses of Parliament, the
committee recommended that the bill be passed in the same
The report said the bill is an important legislation
aimed at strengthening women`s rights and that the personal
laws cannot be kept away from the principles of gender
equality and gender justice.
"The committee is of the view that the amendments
proposed in the bill would place the mother on an equal
footing with the father with respect to the right of
guardianship and the right to adopt," it said.
With this, the proposed bill, which seeks to amend the
Guardians and Wards Act (GWA), 1890 and the Hindu Adoption
Maintenance Act, 1956, is likely to be tabled in the Lok Sabha
during the ongoing Monsoon session.
According to the GWA, which applies to Christians,
Muslims, Parsis and Jews, if a couple adopts a child, the
father is the natural guardian.
The proposed 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 bill 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, proposed 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
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