CHILD Protection & Child Rights » IV. National Mechanisms » Child Related Legislations » Hindu Adoption and Maintenance Act, 1956
Adoption according to Indian law is a personal act and hence is governed by the various personal laws of the different religions. Adoption is not permitted in according to the personal law of Muslims, Christians, Parsis and Jews in India. Hence they usually opt for guardianship of a child through the Guardians and Wards Act, 1890. The following is an outline of the provisions in this law that pertains to children below the age of 18.
This act applies to all Hindu, Buddhists, Sikhs and Jains by religion. A child, legitimate or illegitimate, whose parent(s) or guardians were Hindu, Buddhist, Jain or Sikh is also considered under this act. A person who converted to these religions is also considered under this act. According to the act a 'Hindu' is any person to whom this act applies. In this act a minor is any person who has not completed 18 years of age. This act supersedes any act concerning Hindu adoption and maintenance.
Under this act, adoptions can only be made if all three parties, the minor, the giver and the adopter are all in agreement and considered fit. A Hindu male can adopt a male or female child, but must have to have the consent of his wife (wives) if she is alive and of sound mind and Hindu. A female Hindu can adopt if she is of sound mind, unmarried or married and her husband is dead, of unsound mind or is no longer a Hindu. Only the father, mother or the guardian of a child can place the child for adoption. A child can only be adopted if he/she is Hindu, not previously adopted, not married and has not completed fifteen years of age.
If the adoptive family already have a son or grandson or great-grandson (paternal lineage only) in their home they are not permitted to adopt a son. If the adoptive family already have a daughter or grand daughter (paternal lineage only) in their home they are not permitted to adopt a daughter. When adopting a child of the opposite sex the adopter must be 21 years older than the child. A child once adopted is considered to be a child of the adoptive family and all tied with his/her previous family cease to exist except with regard to prohibitions of marriage and property inherited by the child. Adopted children have the right to inherit property from their adoptive parents. A valid adoption can not be nulled by any party. Bribing a party for adoption is an offence punishable under this act.
If a person is already married at the time of adoption then his/her spouse will become the adoptive father/mother of the child. If the adoption takes place before marriage the spouse will be considered the step-parents of the child. In the case of multiple wives, the adopter must decide who the adoptive mother is and who the step-mothers are. Under the maintenance part of the act, A Hindu must provide for his/her legitimate and illegitimate children.