House Panel Bats for Equality in Guardianship

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A mother and father should have equal rights as guardians of their children and the Hindu Minority and Guardianship Act 1956 (HMGA) should be amended as it discriminates against women, a panel has recommended parliamentarian in his report.

“The said law does not provide for joint guardianship nor does it recognize the mother as guardian of the legitimate minor child unless the father is deceased or declared incapacitated. The law gives preference to the father over the mother, it goes against the right to equality. and the right against discrimination provided for in Articles 14 and 15 of the Constitution. The committee believes there is an urgent need to amend the HMGA and give equal treatment to mother and father as natural guardians,” says the House Standing Committee on Personnel, Public Grievances, Law and Justice, which filed on Monday its report on “the review of guardianship and adoption laws”.

Section 6 of the HMGA states that in the case of a Hindu underage boy and an unmarried Hindu underage girl, the father is the natural guardian and ‘after’ him the mother. Article 7 of the same law provides that the natural guardianship of an adopted son, a minor, is transmitted by adoption to the adoptive father and “after” him to the adoptive mother.

Marital conflicts

The parliamentary panel also called for a review of custody of children in marital disputes and suggested giving courts the power to award joint custody to both parents where it is conducive to the welfare of the child, or assign sole custody to one parent with visitation rights to the other. .

“As society changes rapidly, marital and family relationships are becoming increasingly complex. The basis for ending marriage has shifted from fault-based divorce to divorce by mutual consent. There is a need to establish a framework in legislation in which divorcing parents and children can decide which custody arrangement is best for them,” the panel said.

He also proposed guardianship rights for people with disabilities and autism or cerebral palsy, people with mental health issues and the elderly. In such cases where guardianship of adults is concerned, the panel says the law should consider “supported decision-making” as an alternative to guardianship where a person appoints trusted advisers such as friends, family or professionals to serve as support.

During the adoption, the committee said the LGBTQ community should also be covered by the law.

Under the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act 2015, prospective adoptive parents must be physically, mentally, emotionally stable and financially capable. While single men can only adopt boys, single women can adopt a child of any gender. It also states that no child should be given up for adoption to a couple unless they have at least two years of a stable marital relationship.

The committee also suggested harmonizing the provisions of the JJ Act 2015 and the Hindu Adoptions and Maintenance Act (HAMA) 1956, as adoption under the former is tedious and time-consuming, and the second has shortcomings such as the impossibility of tracing the source. of the child given up for adoption or the lack of post-adoption follow-up.

The panel rekindled an old call for maintaining an adoption registry of children adopted through HAMA, as many fear it is sometimes used as a conduit for trafficking.

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