RS approves equal rights for women on guardianship

RS approves equal rights for women on guardianship

The Personal Laws Amendment Bill, 2010 seeks to amend the Guardians and Wards Act (GWA), 1890 and the Hindu Adoptions and Maintenance Act (HAMA), 1956.

It seeks to allow the mother along with the father to be appointed as a guardian, making the process gender-neutral. Besides, it aims at removing hurdles in the way of a married woman to adopt. She can give a son or daughter for adoption.

"The amendment will make both the mother and father the natural guardians of the child," Law Minister Veerappa Moily said while replying to the debate on it.

He said the Centre also proposes to make marriage registration compulsory and the state governments are taking steps in this regard.

For adoption and guardianship, under the existing Act, only the father is considered to be the natural guardian of the child in a Hindu family and only unmarried, divorced women and widows are allowed to adopt a child. Women separated from their husbands and engaged in lengthy divorce battles cannot adopt a child.

"It (the bill) will have a far reaching impact on bringing gender equality and gender neutrality," Moily said.

He said it sends the message that Parliamentary democracy has matured and the psyche has changed.

"We should take a pledge, particularly men, that we should never allow our women to be degraded and looked down...Male chauvinism and dominance should disappear," he said, adding, women's identity has to be reasserted.

On demand from the BJP for a uniform civil code, he said, "Uniform civil code is not possible as it requires changes in Personal Laws of the Minority Community."

He said the UPA Government has maintained that it should not interfere in these laws.
Earlier, participating in the debate Venkaiah Naidu (BJP) demanded a Common Civil Code and setting up of a Commission or sub-Committee to study the matter.

"Common civil code is the need of the hour," he said pointing out that when even Muslim countries can be governed by a common law, why not India. "There is no common law here because of the vote politics," he said.

"Even the Supreme Court has said umpteen number of times -- 20 times -- that the country must go for Common Civil Code," he said, adding that the former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi had taken a step in this direction but "back-tracked".

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