The Hindu Adoptions And Maintenance Act, 1956
- Short title and extent
- Application of Act. —
- Over-riding effect of Act
- Adoptions to be regulated by this Chapter. —
- Requisites of a valid adoption
- Capacity of a male Hindu to take in adoption
- Capacity of a female Hindu to take in adoption
- Persons capable of giving in adoption. —
- Persons who may be adopted
- Other conditions for a valid adoption
- Effects of adoption
- Right of adoptive parents to dispose of their properties
- Determination of adoptive mother in certain cases
- Valid adoption not to be cancelled
- Presumption as to registered documents relating to adoption
- Prohibition of certain payments
- Maintenance of wife. —
- Maintenance of widowed daughter-in-law
- Maintenance of children and aged parents
- Dependants defined
- Maintenance of dependants
- Amount of maintenance
- Claimant to maintenance should be a Hindu
- Amount of maintenance may be altered on change of circumstances
- Debts to have priority
- Maintenance when to be a charge
- Effect of transfer of property on right to maintenance
The Hindu Adoptions And Maintenance Act, 1956
The Hindu Adoptions and Maintenance Act, 1956 received the assent of the
President on December 21,1956 and was published in the Gazette of India on December
(78 of 1956)
[21st December, 1956]
An Act to amend and codify the law relating to adoptions and maintenance among Hindus.
Be it enacted by Parliament in the Seventh Year of the Republic of India as follows:
Preliminary CHAPTER I
1. Short title and extent.
(1) This Act may be called The Hindu Adoptions and Maintenance Act, 1956 .
(2) It extends to the whole of India except the State of Jammu and Kashmir.
2. Application of Act.
(1) This Act applies
(a) to any person, who is a Hindu by religion in any of its forms or developments, including a Virashaiva, a Lingayat or a follower of the Brahmo, Prarthana or Arya Samaj;
(b) to any person who is a Buddhist, Jaina or Sikh by religion; and
(c) to any other person who is not a Muslim, Christian, Parsi or Jew by religion, unless it is proved that any such person would not have been governed by the Hindu Law or by any custom or usage as part of that law in respect of any of the matters dealt with herein if this Act had not been passed.
Explanation – The following persons are Hindus, Buddhists, Jainas or Sikhs by religion, as the case may be:
(a) any child, legitimate or illegitimate, both of whose parents are Hindus, Buddhists, Jainas or Sikhs by religion;
(b) any child, legitimate or illegitimate, one of whose parents is a Hindu, Buddhist, Jaina or Sikh by religion and who is brought up as a member of the tribe, community, group or family to which such parent belongs or belonged;
(bb) any child, legitimate or illegitimate, who has been abandoned both by his father and mother or whose parentage is not known and who in either case is brought up as a Hindu, Buddhist, Jaina or Sikh; and
(c) any person who is a convert or re-convert to the Hindu, Buddhist, Jaina or Sikh religion.
(2) Notwithstanding anything contained in sub-section (1), nothing contained in this Act shall apply to the members of any Scheduled Tribe within the meaning of clause (25) of article 366 of the Constitution unless the Central Government, by notification in the Official Gazette, otherwise directs.
(2-A) Notwithstanding anything contained in sub-section (1), nothing containing in this Act shall apply to the Renoncants of the Union Territory of Pondicherry.
(3) The expression Hindu in any portion of this Act shall be construed as if it included a person who, though not a Hindu by religion, is, nevertheless, a person to whom this Act applies by virtue of the provisions contained in this section.
In this Act, unless the context otherwise requires,
(a) the expressions custom and usage signify any rule which, having been continuously and uniformly observed for a long time, has obtained the force of law among Hindus in any local area, tribe, community, group or family:
Provided that the rule is certain and not unreasonable or opposed to public policy; and
Provided further that, in the case of a rule applicable only to a family, it has not been discontinued by the family;
(b) maintenance includes
(i) in all cases, provision for food, clothing, residence, education and medical attendance and treatment;
(ii) in the case of an unmarried daughter, also the reasonable expenses of and incident to her marriage;
(c) minor means a person who has not completed his or her age of eighteen years.
4. Overriding effect of Act. Save as otherwise expressly provided in this Act,
(a) any text, rule or interpretation of Hindu Law or any custom or usage as part of that law in force immediately before the commencement of this Act shall cease to have effect with respect to any matter for which provision is made in this Act;
(b) any other law in force immediately before the commencement of this Act shall cease to apply to Hindus in so far as it is inconsistent with any of the provisions contained in this Act.
CHAPTER II Adoption
5. Adoptions to be regulated by this Chapter.(1) No adoption shall be made after the commencement of this Act by or to a Hindu except in accordance with the provisions contained in this Chapter, and any adoption made in contravention of the said provisions shall be void.(2) An adoption which is void shall neither create any rights in the adoptive family in favour of any person which he or she could not have acquired except by reason of the adoption, nor destroy the rights of any person in the family of his or her birth.
6. Requisites of a valid adoption.
No adoption shall be valid unless
(i) the person adopting has the capacity, and also the right, to take in adoption;
(ii) the person giving in adoption has the capacity to do so;
(iii) the person adopted is capable of being taken in adoption; and
(iv) the adoption is made in compliance with the other conditions mentioned in this Chapter.
7. Capacity of a male Hindu to take in adoption.Any male Hindu who is of sound mind and is not a minor has the capacity to take a son or a daughter in adoption:Provided that, if he has a wife living, he shall not adopt except with the consent of his wife unless the wife has completely and finally renounced the world or has ceased to be a Hindu or has been declared by a Court of competent jurisdiction to be of unsound mind.
Explanation .If a person has more than one wife living at the time of adoption, the consent of all the wives is necessary unless the consent of any one of them is unnecessary for any of the reasons specified in the preceding proviso.
8. Capacity of a female Hindu to take in adoption. – Any female Hindu who is of sound mind and is not a minor has the capacity to take a son or daughter in adoption:Provided that, if she has a husband living, she shall not adopt a son or daughter except with the consent of her husband unless the husband has completely and finally renounced the world or has ceased to be a Hindu or has been declared by a court of competent jurisdiction to be of unsound mind.].
9. Persons capable of giving in adoption.
(1) No person except the father or mother or the guardian of a child shall have the capacity to give the child in adoption.
[(2) Subject to the provisions of sub-section (4), the father or the mother, if alive, shall have equal right to give a son or daughter in adoption: Provided that such right shall not be exercised by either of them save with the consent of the other unless one of them has completely and finally renounced the world or has ceased to be a Hindu or has been declared by a court of competent jurisdiction to be of unsound mind.];
(4) Where both the father and mother are dead or have completely and finally renounced the world or have abandoned the child or have been declared by a Court of competent jurisdiction to be of unsound mind or where the parentage of the child is not known, the guardian of the child may give the child in adoption with the previous permission of the Court to any person including the guardian himself.
(5) Before granting permission to a guardian under sub-section (4), the Court shall be satisfied that the adoption will be for the welfare of the child, due consideration being for this purpose given to the wishes of the child having regard to the age and understanding of the child and that the applicant for permission has not received or agreed to receive and that no person has made or given or agreed to make or give to the applicant any payment or reward in consideration of the adoption except such as the Court may sanction.
Explanation .For the purposes of this section
(i) the expressions father and mother do not include an adoptive father and an adoptive mother;
[(ia) guardian means a person having the care of the person of a child or of both his person and property and includes
(a) a guardian appointed by the will of the childs father or mother, and
(b) a guardian appointed or declared by a Court; and]
(ii) Court means the City Civil Court or a district Court within the local limits of whose jurisdiction the child to be adopted ordinarily resides.
10. Persons who may be adopted.
No person shall be capable of being taken in adoption unless the following conditions are fulfilled, namely:
(i) he or she is a Hindu;
(ii) he or she has not already been adopted;
(iii) he or she has not been married, unless there is a custom or usage applicable to the parties which permits persons who are married being taken in adoption;
(iv) he or she has not completed the age of fifteen years, unless there is a custom or usage applicable to the parties which permits persons who have completed the age of fifteen years being taken in adoption.
11. Other conditions for a valid adoption.In every adoption, the following conditions must be complied with:
(i) if the adoption is of a son, the adoptive father or mother by whom the adoption is made must not have a Hindu son, sons son or sons sons son (whether by legitimate blood relationship or by adoption) living at the time of adoption;
(ii) if the adoption is of a daughter, the adoptive father or mother by whom the adoption is made must not have a Hindu daughter or sons daughter (whether by legitimate blood relationship or by adoption) living at the time of adoption;
(iii) if the adoption is by a male and the person to be adopted is a female, the adoptive father is at least twenty-one years older than the person to be adopted;
(iv) if the adoption is by a female and the person to be adopted is a male, the adoptive mother is at least twenty-one years older than the person to be adopted;
(v) the same child may not be adopted simultaneously by two or more persons;
(vi) the child to be adopted must be actually given and taken in adoption by the parents or guardian concerned or under their authority with intent to transfer the child from the family of its birth [or in the case of an abandoned child or a child whose parentage is not known, from the place or family where it has been brought up] to the family of its adoption:
Provided that the performance of datta homam shall not be essential to the validity of an adoption.
12. Effects of adoption.An adopted child shall be deemed to be the child of his or her adoptive father or mother for all purposes with effect from the date of the adoption and from such date all the ties of the child in the family of his or her birth shall be deemed to be severed and replaced by those created by the adoption in the adoptive family:Provided that
(a) the child cannot marry any person whom he or she could not have married if he or she had continued in the family of his or her birth;
(b) any property which vested in the adopted child before the adoption shall continue to vest in such person subject to the obligations, if any, attaching to the ownership of such property, including the obligation to maintain relatives in the family of his or her birth;
(c) the adopted child shall not divest any person of any estate which vested in him or her before the adoption.
13. Right of adoptive parents to dispose of their properties.Subject to any agreement to the contrary, an adoption does not deprive the adoptive father or mother of the power to dispose of his or her property by transfer inter vivos or by Will.
14. Determination of adoptive mother in certain cases.(1) Where a Hindu who has a wife living adopts a child, she shall be deemed to be the adoptive mother.(2) Where an adoption has been made with the consent of more than one wife, the seniormost in marriage among them shall be deemed to be the adoptive mother and the others to be step-mothers.(3) Where a widower or a bachelor adopts a child, any wife whom he subsequently marries shall be deemed to be the step-mother of the adopted child.(4) Where a widow or an unmarried woman adopts a child, any husband whom she marries subsequently shall be deemed to be the step-father of the adopted child.
15. Valid adoption not to be cancelled.No adoption which has been validly made can be cancelled by the adoptive father or mother or any other person, nor can the adopted child renounce his or her status as such and return to the family of his or her birth.
16. Presumption as to registered documents relating to adoption.Whenever any document registered under any law for the time being in force is produced before any Court purporting to record an adoption made and is signed by the person giving and the person taking the child in adoption, the Court shall presume that the adoption has been made in compliance with the provisions of this Act unless and until it is disproved.
17. Prohibition of certain payments.(1) No person shall receive or agree to receive any payment or other reward in consideration of the adoption of any person, and no person shall make or give or agree to make or give to any other person any payment or reward the receipt of which is prohibited by this section.(2) If any person contravenes the provisions of sub-section (1), he shall be punishable with imprisonment which may extend to six months, or with fine, or with both.(3) No prosecution under this section shall be instituted without the previous sanction of the State Government or an officer authorised by the State Government in this behalf.
Repeals And Savings
29. Repeals.[Repealed by the Repealing Act, 1960 (58 of 1960), section 2 and Schedule I.]
30. Savings. Nothing contained in this Act shall affect any adoption made before the commencement of this Act, and the validity and effect of any such adoption shall be determined as if this Act had not been passed.
All these recent enactments, which have, as their fundamental purpose, the removal of
Hindu Women’s disabilities and conferment on them of better rights for maintenance and property, may in my opinion, be legitimately and with advantage referred to and harmoniously construed for the purpose of ascertaing the real manifest intention and the underlying cardinal purpose of the Parliament in enacting the Hindu Adoptions and Maintenance Act, 1956 in response to the needs and demands of a progressive society.
Further, that these legislative measures appear to me clearly to reflect the modern liberal tendency of the Hindu society to confer on Hindu women much larger rights than they had heretofore been enjoying. The medieval conservative theory of treating women as inferior beings has, in my opinion, has finally discarded by the Parliament in the clearest possible terms