THE HINDU ADOPTIONS AND MAINTENANCE ACT, 1956

                         THE HINDU ADOPTIONS AND MAINTENANCE ACT, 1956

 

Be it enacted by Parliament in the Seventh Year of the Republic of India as
follows:-

 

                                              CHAPTER I


                                            PRELIMINARY

 

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 for illegitin~ate, 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 is either case is
brought up as a Hindu, Buddhist, Jaina or Sikh, and


(c) any person who is a convert or reconvert 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 contained
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.

 

3. Definitions- 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-


(a) who is of sound mind,


(b) who is not a minor, and


(c) who is not married, or if married, whose marriage has been dissolved or
whose husband is dead or 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, has the capacity to take a son or daughter in adoption.


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 (3) and sub-section (4), the father,
if alive, shall alone have the right to give in adoption, but such right shall not be
exercised save with the consent of the mother unless the mother 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.

 

(3) The mother may give the child in adoption if the father is dead or 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,


(i-a) "guardian" means aperson having the care of the person of a child or of
both his person and property and includes-


(a) a guardian appointed by will of the child's father or mother; and


(b) a guardian appointed or declared by a court; and


(ii) "court" means the city or civil court or a district court within the local limits
or 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 any adoption is of a son, the adoptive father or mother by whom the
adoption is made must not have a Hindu son, son's son or son's son's 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 son's 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 homan, shall not be essential to the
validity of an adoption.

 

12. Effect of adoptions- 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 senior most in marriage among them shall be deemed to be the adoptive
mother and the others to be stepmothers.


(3) Where a widower or a bachelor adopts a child, any wife whom he
subsequently marries shall be deemed to be the stepmother 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 stepfather of the adopted
child.

 

15. Valid adoption not to be cancelled-

 

No adoption which had 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 authorized by the State
Government in this behalf.

 

                                        CHAPTER III


                                        MAINTENANCE

 

18. Maintenance of wife-

 

(1) Subject to the provisions of this section, a Hindu
wife, whether married before or after the commencement of this Act, shall be
entitled to be maintained by her husband during her lifetime.


(2) A Hindu wife shall be entitled to live separately from her husband without
forfeiting her claim to maintenance,-


(a) if he is guilty of desertion, that is to say, of abandoning her without
reasonable cause and without her consent or against her wish, or of wilfully
neglecting her;


(b) if he has treated her with such cruelty as to cause a reasonable
apprehension in her mind that it will be harmful or injurious to live with her husband;

(c) if he is suffering from a virulent form of leprosy;


(d) if he has any other wife living;


(e) if he keeps a concubine in the same house in which his wife is living or
habitually resides with a concubine elsewhere;


(f) if he has ceased to be a Hindu by conversion to another religion;


(g) if there is any other cause justifying her living separately.


(3) A Hindu wife shall not be entitled to separate residence and maintenance
from her husband if she is unchaste or ceases to be a Hindu by conversion to
another religion.

19. Maintenance of widowed daughter-in-law-

 

(1) A Hindu wife, whether married before or after the commencement of this Act, shall be entitled to be maintained after the death of her husband by her father-in-law.


Provided and to the extent that she is unable to maintain herself out of her own
earnings or other property or, where she has no property of her own, is unable
to obtain maintenance-


(a) from the estate of her husband or her father or mother, or


(b) from her son or daughter, if any, or his or her estate.


(2) Any obligation under sub-section (1) shall not be enforceable if the fatherinlaw
has not the means to do so from any coparcenary property in his possession out of which the daughter-in-law has not obtained any share, and any such obligation shall cease on the remarriage of the daughter-in-law.


20. Maintenance of children and aged parents-

 

(1) Subject to the provisions of this section a Hindu is bound, during his or her lifetime, to maintain his or her legitimate or illegitimate children and his or her aged or infirm parents.


(2) A legitimate or illegitimate child may claim maintenance from his or her
father or mother so long as the child is a minor.


(3) The obligation of a person to maintain his or her aged or infirm parent or
daughter who is unmarried extends in so far as the parent or the unmarried
daughter, as the case may be, is unable to maintain himself or herself out of his
or her own ealnings or other property


Explanation- In this section "parent" includes a childless stepmother.

 

21. Dependents defined- For the purposes of this Chapter "dependents" mean the following relatives of the deceased(


i) his or her father;


(ii) his or her mother;


(iii) his widow, so long as she does not remarry;


(iv) his or her son or the son of his predeceased son or the son of a
predeceased son of his predeceased son, so long as he is a minor; provided and
to the extent that he is unable to obtain maintenance, in the case of a grandson
from his father's or mother's estate, and in the case of a great-grandson, from
the estate of his father or mother or father's father or father's mother;


(v) his or her unmarried daughter for the unmarried daughter of his
predeceased son or the unmarried daughter of a predeceased son of his
predeceased son, so long as she remains unmarried; provided and to the extent
that she is unable to obtain maintenance, in the case of a grand daughter from
her father's or mother's estate and in the case of a great-grand daughter from
the estate of her father or mother or father's father or father's mother;


(vi) his widowed daughter; provided and to the extent that she is unable to
obtain maintenance-


(a) from the estate of her husband; or


(b) from her son or daughter, if any, or his or her estate; or


(c) from her father-in-law or his father or the estate of either of them;


(vii) any widow of his son or of a son of his predeceased son, so long as she
does not remarry; provided and to the extent that she is unable to obtain
maintenance from her husband's estate, or from her son or daughter, if any, or
his or her estate; or in the case of a grandson's widow, also from her father-inlaw's
estate;


(viii) his or her minor illegitimate son, so long as he remains a minor;


(xi) his or her illegitimate daughter, so long as she remains unmarried.

 

22. Maintenance of dependents-

 

(1) Subject to the provisions of sub-section (2), the heirs of a deceased Hindu are bound to maintain the dependents of the deceased out of the estate inherited by them from the deceased.


(2) Where a dependent has not obtained, by testamentary or intestate
succession, any share in the estate of a Hindu dying after the commencement
of this Act, the dependent shall be entitled, subject to the provisions of this Act,
to maintenance from those who take the estate.


(3) The liability of each of the persons who take the estate shall be in proportion
to the value of the share or part of the estate taken by him or her.


(4) Notwithstanding anything contained in sub-section (2) or sub-section (3), no
person who is himself or herself a dependent shall be liable to contribute to the
maintenance of others, if he or she has obtained a share or part, the value of
which is, or would, if the liability to contribute were enforced, become less than
what would be awarded to him or her by way of maintenance under this Act.

 

23. Amount of maintenance-

 

(1) It shall be in the discretion of the court to determine whether any, and if so what, maintenance shall be awarded under the provisions of this Act, and in doing so, the court shall have due regard to the consideration set out in sub-section (2) or sub-section (3), as the case maybe, so far as they are applicable.


(2) In determining the amount of maintenance, if any, to be awarded to a wife,
children or aged or infirm parents under this Act, regard shall be had to-


(a) the position and status of the parties;


(b) the reasonable wants of the claimant;


(c) if the claimant is living separately, whether the claimant is justified in doing
so;


(d) the value of the claimant's property and any income derived from such
property, or from the claimant's own earning or from any other source;


(e) the number of persons entitled to maintenance under this Act.


(3) In determining the amount of maintenance, if any, to be awarded to a
dependent under this Act, regard shall be had to-


(a) the net value of the estate of the deceased after providing for the payment
of his debts;


(b) the provision, if any, made under a will of the deceased in respect, of the
dependent;


(c) the degree of relationship between the two;


(d) the reasonable wants of the dependent;


(e) the past relations between the dependent and the deceased;


(f) the value of the property of the dependent and any income derived from
such property, or from his or her earnings or from any other course;


(g) the number of dependents entitled to maintenance under this Act.


24. Claimant to maintenance should be a Hindu-

 

No person shall be entitled to claim maintenance under this Chapter if he or she has ceased to be a Hindu by conversion to another religion.


25. Amount of maintenance may be altered on change of circumstances-

 

The amount of maintenance, whether fixed by a decree of court or by agreement either before or after the commencement of this Act, may be altered subsequently if there is a material change in the circumstances justifying such alteration.


26. Debts to have priority-

 

Subject to the provisions contained in Section 27 debts of every description contracted or payable by the deceased shall have priority over the claims of his dependents for maintenance under this Act.


27. Maintenance when to be a charge-

 

A dependent's claim for maintenance under this Act shall not be a charge on the estate of the deceased or any portion thereof, unless one has been created by the will of the deceased, by a decree of court, by agreement between the dependent and the owner of the estate or portion, or otherwise.


28. Effect of transfer of property on right or maintenance-

 

where a dependent has a right to receive maintenance out of an estate and such estate or any part thereof is transferred, the right to receive maintenance may be
enforced agamst the transferee if the transferee has notice of the right or if the
transfer is gratuitous; but not against the transferee for consideration and
without notice of the right.

 

                                                CHAPTER IV


                                           REPEALS AND SAVINGS


29. Repeals- [Repealed by Act 58 of 1960].


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.